Inside This Heart of Mine

Catherine Russell

Vocalist Catherine Russell continues to amaze and delight on this, her third CD. In addition to items by Duke Ellington, Fats Waller and Lil Hardin Armstrong, the perky songstress has also chosen bluesman Willie Dixon’s “Spoonful,” a 1960 hit for Howlin’ Wolf, as well as the incomparable Wynonie Harris’ jumping ode to the effects of booze: “Quiet Whiskey.” Russell, whose singing credits include years of backing up artists as diverse as Madonna, David Bowie, Roseanne Cash and Steely Dan—to name just a few—emerged from obscurity five years ago to unanimous acclaim. The title track, by Waller, is a bleak account of an ended love affair (“Outside it’s sunny but in this heart of mine the world is gloomy …”). Much cheerier is Waller’s partner Andy Razaf’s paean to pleasure, “We the People” (“We the people gotta have rhythm and song”), with appropriately peppy contributions from pianist Mark Shane and trumpeter Jon-Erik Kellso. Whether she’s joyously singing about the future of love in “As Long as I Live” (“What if I can’t live to love you as long as I want to … I’m gonna love you as long as I live”); celebrating oscular dexterity on Ellington’s “Long, Strong and Consecutive” or visiting New Orleans for an anthemic rendition of “Struttin’ With Some Barbeque,” Russell and company deliver the goods on each number.