A local favorite and the lucky Irish
Kathy Morrow “Little Black Dress”(Katsjazz Productions)Local chanteuse Kathy Morrow’s new release, “Little Black Dress,” doesn’t reinvent the jazz wheel – she mostly crafts torchy jazz standards – but she elevates and carries the album with a full, brassy alto voice that goes from smolder to four-alarm blaze in seconds, often within the same song. The title track is a spunky tribute to a girl’s night out, and able drummer Larry Dutmer adds spice with a barrage of snappy snare trills. On the opposite end of the spectrum, “Temporary Love” is a wistful, gentle number reminiscent of Sarde that sounds like it was recorded on a rainy day. Morrow and company – bassist Peter Fontanese, alto sax player Brent Gordon and drummer Dutmer – are at their best when sticking to a spare, lean jazz arrangement; background synths on “Feel Like Making Love” threaten to steer the song into elevator music territory, but Morrow (who also plays all keys on the album) consistently veers closer to traditional jazz, at which the quartet excels. The biggest accomplishment might be that these songs sound like they fit right into a catalogue of jazz standards, and Morrow wrote nearly all of them. The next time you step into the Yarn Studio, remember: You might have a bona-fide torch singer in your midst. – Ted Alvarez
Young Dubliners”With All Due Respect: The Irish Sessions”(429 Records)As always, the Young Dubliners prove that traditional Irish tunes fit best as rock ‘n’ roll. Raucous, rowdy, loud: The Celtic spirit fits The Young Dubliners’ fiery style, and they embrace it fully.Maybe you got a chance to see them at Mango’s last October; if you didn’t, you missed something special. This band is best seen in close quarters, with amps on full and a crowd that knows all the words jumping and carrying on as one.The Young Dubs have been a Vail favorite for over a decade, playing just about annually at the Ford Amphitheater and 8150 (and the nightclub’s predecessor, Garton’s). Need a crowd? Sign ’em up. But this little piece isn’t about their live performances, although they are playing at Mango’s again this week. They love that too-small venue for the brick-pub vibe of the restaurant, and for the story of being driven forever up some wiggly mountain road to this magical place.Nah, this is about an album with only traditional Irish tunes on it and a lovely name: “With All Due Respect: The Irish Sessions.” Their other CDs are original work, but fans have been clamoring for a selection of Irish classics forever. And for good reason: Some of their most rocking numbers are these songs, written as ballads and played like full-tilt battles.No one – no one – plays “The Rocky Road to Dublin” or “Foggy Dew” harder or better than the Young Dubliners. An afficionado (that’s an Irish word, right?) of Celtic music, I can tell you this for certain.Not that they play any truly Celtic instruments, other than Kansan Chas Waltz on the fiddle. Bob Boulding plays lead guitar in a way that would make Jimi Hendrix proud. The drums, played by David Ingraham, are a regular kit, not that tamborine-looking bodhran. Brendan Holmes, an actual Irishman, plays electric bass. And founder Keith Roberts, on rhythmn guitar, leads with a voice that sounds like it was cured in Guinness and single malt.
Roberts is a real-deal Irish guy, too, an ex-pat who started the band in 1988 with another Irishman in Santa Monica, of all places. The Irish love L.A. – don’t ask me why. The “Irish Sessions” will complete the collection for diehard Young Dubs fans who brave that long, windy road to Mango’s today and Wednesday. This is the music that makes the concerts – no disrespect to their original work, of course. (In the interest of disclosure, it must be admitted that my 15-year-old daughter, Rachel, is a member of the band’s “street team.”) – Don Rogers