Thursday 14 December 2017

From Middlesex to Mississippi, lady sings the blues

Grainne Farren


Zoe Schwarz Blue Commotion (33 Jazz)

Featuring Zoe Schwarz (vocals), Rob Koral (guitar), Gareth Williams (piano), Steve Thompson (bass), Paul Robinson (drums).

Zoe Schwarz is an unlikely name for a blues singer. Sure enough, she grew up far from the Mississippi Delta -- in England, to be exact. She trained as a classical singer before discovering her inner jazzwoman about 10 years ago.

On this album she concentrates on the blues with numbers by Buddy Johnson, Willie Dixon, Muddy Waters, Billie Holiday and Ray Charles, plus three originals co-written with Rob Koral.

She has a good, big voice and a feeling for the idiom. Moods vary from the bouncy good cheer of Ain't That Fine to the wistfulness of Since I Fell For You and the drama of I Can't Quit You Babe.

Billie Holiday's influence is evident in songs like He's Funny That Way. Guitarist Rob Koral enhances the blues feeling on this collection and plays some delectable solos. He can also be heard to good effect with Schwarz on their 2009 duo album, Celebration, where the accent is on ballads and standards.

On January 18, in the National Concert Hall's John Field Room, Honor Heffernan and the Jim Doherty Trio will present a songbook of the top tunes from The Roaring Thirties.

And on January 24, the same venue will host a solo concert by young Armenian pianist, Tigran Hamasyan.

Sunday Independent

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