Artist: Adrianna Marie and Her Roomful of All-Stars
Album: Kingdom of Swing
Label: Barking Blues Music/Vizztone
Release Date: 03/24/2017
Everything about this effort, including the album photography, takes us back to the golden era of big bands like Ellington and Count Basie as Adrianna Marie fronts arguably the best players of vintage big band and jump blues fare these days, The Roomful of Blues horns, which are joined by a select few West Coast musicians. This is a natural progression for Adrianna who earned both 2014 Blues Blast and Blues Music nominations for “Best New Artist Debut” for her Double Crossing Blues, with a band she dubbed The Groovecutters.
The West Coast based Marie, a former fashion model, is a striking brunette who can command a room with both her looks and voice. She was born into the folk scene in Connecticut and is the daughter of a couple known as the Carolee Singers. Yet, she fell in love with the music of the ’40s and ’50s when her vocal coach snuck her into jazz and blues clubs in Connecticut and New York City as a teenager. Chances are she’s heard Roomful of Blues and guitarist/producer Duke Robillard many times and likely aspired to play with them.
As with the previous album, her husband, guitarist L.A. Jones, takes the lead on most of the tracks with single guest guitar spots from Robillard and Junior Watson. Pianist Al Copley plays brilliantly throughout. Marie seems born to sing this kind of music, which demands an approach that’s both sultry and playful, with nuanced, accurate phrasing. Although she covers those you might expect, like Ellington, Helen Humes and T-Bone Walker, she brings six of her originals to the generous set of 14 tracks.
Aside from her wonderful vocals, guitarist Jones proves to be creative, adding contemporary flourishes in his soloing on Ellington’s “Mood Indigo” and Humes’ “Drive Me Daddy,” where Bob Corritore also guests on harp. The music swings, and though it leans more toward jazz than blues, Marie proves more than capable at both.
Get out your dancing shoes. Play this for anyone. Even your grandparents will approve. After all, they grew up with this music. Kudos to Adrianna Marie and her players for taking us back to this golden era of song, and showing us that it can still be played with sophistication and flair.
– Jim Hynes