Monday, November 15, 2010

Mae West: Troubled Remake

A song recorded by MAE WEST on 7 May 1934 has been neglected by singers — — until this year. "Troubled Waters" by New York City lyricist Sam Coslow and composer Arthur Johnson was created expressly for the motion picture "Belle of the Nineties." Backed by Duke Ellington and his Orchestra, Mae archived her performance in the recording studio.
• • Arthur Johnston and Sam Coslow have provided four crimson chansons — — "My Old Flame," "Troubled Waters," "My American Beauty," and "When a St. Louis Woman Comes Down to New Orleans" — — which are quite perfect, and Miss West delivers them in her inimitable adenoidal contralto, noted The New York Times review printed on 22 September 1934.
• • Vocalist Catherine Russell, a native New Yorker, inherited her love for jazz from her father, Luis Russell, the longtime musical director for Louis Armstrong. Instead of focusing on the usual standards, Russell has decided to revive forgotten numbers from the 1930s and 1940s performed by giants such as Mae West and Fats Waller.
• • Writing for NPR.org on Friday, 5 November 2010, Grant Jackson noted: On this "Piano Jazz" with guest host Jon Weber, Catherine Russell is accompanied by the Tin Pan Alley keyboard talents of Mark Shane for a set of tunes from Waller, Harold Arlen, and more.
• • Grant Jackson offered these program notes: Russell starts the set with "Troubled Waters," a tune that appeared in the 1934 Mae West film Belle of the Nineties. "I was digging through some tunes performed by Duke Ellington, and the chord changes and lyrics just grabbed me," Russell says. "When you listen, it can mean many different things." Mae West had enough clout to sing "Troubled Waters" with Ellington's band — — a breakthrough performance for a white singer and a black band in 1934. ...
• • You might have missed Catherine Russell on "Piano Jazz" earlier this month, however, NPR.org does archive certain programs — — so check out her rendition of this Mae West favorite.

• • Come up and see Mae every day online: http://MaeWest.blogspot.com/
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