I was not familiar with Dayna Kurtz prior to receiving her new album, Secret Canon Vol. 2 (M.C. Records), but when she starts singing the opening I Look Good In Bad, she immediately grabbed my attention. Now resident in New Orleans, she is originally from New Jersey and I have discovered she has quite a resume. This is her second album of of lost and obscure blues and R&B gems from the 1940's-1960's with a couple of originals added including the powerful opening track where she belts out “I’ve been bad since you left me, but I look good in bad.”
Recorded in New York and New Orleans, she is supported by Joe Cowherd on keyboards for both sessions. Papa John Gros is on organ for the New Orleans sessions that also included Jason Mingledorff on saxophone who is outstanding on “ Look Good In Bad. Kurtz displays a presence and authority throughout. And she certainly has selected some nice songs to revive. I share her love of Johnny Adams, and she is brave enough to do a solid cover of Adams’ recording of Reconsider Me, although I think it would have been even stronger if she hadn’t tried to emulate Adams’ falsetto. Then there is the soulful lament where she asks to meet him Same Time, Same Place. There is terrific trumpet from Barney Floyd behind her nuanced vocal on this. If You Won't Dance With Me, with a New Orleans second-line groove, is a playful number where she proclaims to her lover that if you won’t dance, than that guy will and “I don’t care you paid for dinner, you ain’t going home a winner.” The mood changes back to the blues as she does not ask for sunshine or for the world to be hers, but wistfully says that All I Ask Is Your Love.
She turns down the heat on the jazz-tinged I Had My Moments, with John Bailey contributing the nice trumpet, that closes this excellent collection of blues, ballads and laments. With wonderful backing and choice selection of material, Secret Canon Vol. 2, wonderfully displays Dayna Kurtz’s striking vocals.
I received my review copy from M.C. Records. Here is a video of Reconsider Me that was made to help promote this CD.