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New Mexico Jazz Festival: Catherine Russell

The New Mexico Jazz Festival begins this week, offering 16 days of concerts, photos, film, and more in both Albuquerque and Santa Fe. Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll focus on a few of the featured artists that will be rearranging time and space for your listening pleasure and the good of your soul. Go to New Mexico Jazz Festival for complete information on all the events.

Catherine Russell Makes the Past Present

Cat digs in.

Cat digs in.

Vocalist Catherine Russell
provides an unanswerable
counterargument to those who would claim that there’s no point in recording yet another
version of vintage-songs-that’ve-been-done-by-many: “These are great songs, and I want to sing them, too.”

You go, girl.

Because she chooses songs that speak to her, and finds a personal way to phrase each and every one of them, Russell reinvigorates material that, in the vocal cords of a lesser singer, might be mere antiques or tired reproductions. Her latest album, Strictly Romancin’ (World Village Records), features songs from the likes of Duke Ellington, Hoagy Carmichael, and Mary Lou Williams, and she and her bandmates comfortably inhabit these tunes, making them feel as present as now.

Russell brings her smooth, supple, resonant alto and fresh phrasing to a free concert this
Saturday in Albuquerque’s Old Town Plaza as part of the New Mexico Jazz Festival, where she’ll be joined by guitarist and musical director Matt Munisteri, pianist Mark Shane, bassist Lee
Hudson, and drummer Mark McLean. (Guitarist Dan Dowling and bassist John Griffin will open the afternoon’s festivities.)

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