14 August 2017

Post 537: SHAKE 'EM UP'S FIRST ALBUM

Good news is that the all-ladies New Orleans-based band called The Shake ‘Em Up Jazz Band has released its first Digital Album. It contains ten songs. You can buy the Album (or individual songs from it) by downloading from:
https://shakeemup.bandcamp.com/releases

The first thing that strikes you about this Album is the clean quality of the recording. All the instruments can be clearly heard and the balance is fine. Molly Reeves has every right to be proud, as she was responsible for the recording and mixing.
Molly Reeves

The title of the Album – Le Donne Mangiano Succhero – which I would very freely translate as The Ladies Like Eating Sugary Things – seems to have been confirmed by their Summer 2017 visit to The Umbria Jazz Festival in Italy, where I hear they enjoyed visiting the pastry and sweet shops!

What will you discover in the Album?

I think you will discover that this band has developed a very pleasant house style. Using simple but well-judged head arrangements, they aim at clarity and accuracy, with full respect to melody and harmonious decoration. You will not find the deliberate rough edges and rawness that some traditional jazz bands go for. But you will hear inspired improvisation, both in the solos and ensembles. And there's some good singing too.

There is a short and snappy version of Les Oignons – with the breaks left silent. So you can all shout ‘Onions’ in the privacy of your home!

Shake ‘Em Up, which has become the band’s unofficial signature tune, is a merry up-tempo 16-bar number, based on a familiar chord sequence. They play it cheerily.

Hearing Molly singing Make Me a Pallet on the Floor was for me one of the pleasures of 2017. She sang the song at my request one night in New Orleans and I put the performance on YouTube. You can see it BY CLICKING HERE.

I’m pleased to say Molly sings the song on this Album, with great support from the rest of the band.

In fact Molly and Julie, together with Dizzy, make a superb and metronomic rhythm team and provide perfect background colouring. Molly and Julie may be heard taking occasional 8-bar or 16-bar solos; and Washboard Wiggles – a standard 32-bar aaba structure – gives Dizzy a chance to shine. But also note a lovely fluent chorus in this tune from Chloe.

The Kid Ory standard Savoy Blues is included. It is a trombonist's speciality and I know Haruka enjoys playing it. She and the band give a good solid performance.

There is the calypso number called Shame and Scandal in the Family. It is a fun song composed in 1943 by the Trinidadian Lancelot Pinard (who used the stage name Sir Lancelot). I guess it is Molly whose voice we hear singing it so entertainingly, with trumpet and trombone riffing along in the background.

The C minor Root, Hog, or Die has become a popular standard in the band’s repertoire. Marla sings it and there is some super soloing, including Chloe’s clarinet backed by washboard only.

Molly sings My Silent Love (composed in 1932) very sweetly and then Chloe plays the first of a series of lovely half-choruses taken by herself, Marla, Haruka and Molly.

In total contrast, Chloe lustily sings the many verses of Empty Bed Blues. I don’t know whether the innuendoes enjoyed by Bessie Smith’s audiences back in 1928 are still appreciated in this more sophisticated age; but the song gives great opportunities to Haruka and Marla to show how well they can provide background colouring in a 12-bar blues.

The CD ends with Chloe singing the medium-tempo There’s a New Moon Over My Shoulder, complete with Verse. It is a Jimmie Davis song from 1944.

All in all, this is a delightful Album and well worth acquiring if you have enjoyed the band’s live performances and YouTube appearances since it was formed (originally by Shaye Cohn) in the summer of 2016.