Bluezzin T'il Dawn
Brooklyn born, but based in Europe, Natalia M. King has a fascinating recording of what is described as jazzy takes on the blues. The singer and guitarist has a band of bassist Anders Ulrich, pianist Anthony Honnet, drummer Davu Honnet, trumpeter Ronald Baker, and reed player Xavier Sibre on the seven originals and two interpretations found here.
Billie Holiday's influence is evident in the opening "Traces in the Sand," a slow blues with tight backing with Sibre's clarinet setting the mood as well as soloing, as Natalia sings about her regrets about a love that is no more. Holiday is not the only influence, as she can belt a song out in a manner Holiday never did as on Holiday's "Don't Explain." This starts off almost as a hot jump blues with Sibre on tenor sax, with a middle section done as a lament, before the groove picks up for the closing vocal chorus. Bassist Ulrich and her own rhythm guitar add much to this performance as well. Her original, "Insatiable," has a ambience similar to the Etta James recording of "At Last," and has her strong vocal complimented by strong tenor sax and pianist Honnet's sterling accompaniment .
Baker's muted trumpet and Honnet's piano establish the tone for the lament "This Time Around," as she sings about being lied to, cheated before and had her clothes on the pavement. There are times her conscious phrasing as on "Baby Brand New," comes off as mannered, but is a minor point with Sibre's wooly sounding tenor sax providing a responsive voice to the vocal with an added treat of the incorporation of "Take Five" in Sibre's solo. Baker's growls, slurs and blasts add to the flavor of "Paint It Black & Blue," as she sings about stumbling in her sorrow about unreturned love with the backing suggestive of the late Charles Brown's latter recordings. "You Came and Go" is a folky lament set against a sparse backing and effective use of flute in the performance. The final number matches her evocative vocal take on Fred Neil's "Little Bit of Rain," against some wonderful muted trumpet.
She is a fascinating singer, with a strong jazz leaning, and supported here by a terrific backing band with some well structured solos. The result is one of the more fascinating recent recordings straddling the blues and jazz worlds and hopefully does not get overlooked because of this.
I received my review copy a publicist. Here is a preview of this recording.