Throw It Away …
What marvelous career Barbara Dane has had ranging the whole spectrum of American music. From her classic jazz recordings, and her memorable album shared with Lightnin' Hopkins over a half century ago, she remains a singular presence on the music scene. Now at 88, she teamed with a wonderful pianist, Tammy Hall and produced "Throw It Away …," with classic blues, torch songs and a few more modern gems. Filling out the backing is bassist Ruth Davies (best known from her time with Charles Brown) and drummer Bill Maginnis with Pablo Menéndez adding blues harp on three tracks and Richard Hadlock adding soprano sax on one.
Dane may not have the range as a singer she once had, but the jazzy accompaniment allows her to "explore entirely new ways of singing." Certainly this is evident in the opening rendition of Memphis Minnie's bawdy "I'm Selling My Porkshops," where her delivery evokes Helen Humes and Ruth Brown in their latter days, and followed by her take on Leonard Cohen's "Slow," with its humorous, half spoken vocal about her partner wanting to get their fast, but she wants to get it last, and that she always liked it slow because it is in her blood. There are a number of other gems including Abby Lincoln's song that provides the CD its title, and that sometimes it is best to let go; Paul Simon's "American Tune;" Duke Ellington's "All Too Soon" which she added lyrics and Hadlock's soprano sax suggesting Johnny Hodges; and the Lennon and McCartney classic, "In My Life."
There is plenty of humor here such as Lu Mitchell's "The Kugelsburg Bank," celebrating a little old lady that is enjoying her slice of the pie south of the border after years of being the bank's outstanding employee as well as her rendition of Mose Allison's "My Brain" (set to the "This Train"/"My Babe" melody). She does not ignore her progressive leanings whether in her environmentally conscious "King Salmon Blues" and her rendition of a Leroy Carr standard "Tell Me How Long" as he asks when we will get justice, tell me how long.
Not the singer of her youth perhaps, but her experiences have helped her shape these performances marvelously and Tammy Hall is a stellar accompanist and the rhythm rendering apt, complementary backing. "Throw It Away …" is a gem of a recording.
I received my review copy from a publicist. Here is a video associated with this release.