The following review of Zora Young’s Tore Up From the Floor Up was originally published in the February 2006 DC Blues Calendar, which was then the DC Blues Society’s newsletter. It also appeared in the February 2006 Jazz & Blues Report (Issue 279). I received my review copy from Delmark Records. This year, I reviewed a tribute to Sunnyland Slim she recorded.
Zora Young has been part of the Chicago club scene for several decades, and first recorded in the early 1980s. She has developed an international reputation through touring and has a small body of recordings including a 2002 Delmark disc, Learned My Lesson. In 2006 Delmark issued her Tore Up From the Floor Up.
On Tore Up From the Floor Up, she is supported by a band that includes guitarist Pete Allen and Bobby Dirninger on keyboards with horns added to two tracks. She is heard on a mix of originals and songs associated with (among others) B.B. King, Bobby Bland, and O.V. Wright. Certainly there is nothing wrong with the material from the opening reworking of Bobby Bland’s Love of Mine to the ballad medley of Since I Fell For You/Silhouettes, and the low-key down-home groove of Muddy’s Two Trains Running. Her own material is pretty good including the title track or her topically laced Til the Fat Lady Sings. There is also a brief interview to close this release.
This is played and sung well enough, but while enjoyable I found little in Young’s vocals or the band that was striking and memorable that would stand out among similar recent blues releases.
Here is Zora singing what she calls a low-down dirty blues.