Judith Durham

Judith Durham & Hottest Band in Town

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Former Seekers lead singer Judith Durham returned to her jazz roots with this extraordinary album (originally released in 1973) of big-band blues and jazz standards, augmented by three excellent originals by the singer herself. Durham belts these numbers out like a latter-day Ethel Merman, only bigger voiced and with an excellent feel for the genre and the sound in which she's working. "Body and Soul," "Gimme a Pigfoot and a Bottle of Beer," "Am I Blue," "Sister Kate (I Wish I Could Shimmy Like My)," "The World's Jazz Crazy," and "Cakewalkin' Babies from Home" are overpowering evocations of a sound that was just about current when Durham was born, and that she's taken to heart as her own, even more natural than her folk-based stylings with the Seekers. Her originals, "I Wanna Dance to Your Music" and "Mama's Got the Blues" are a match for any of those standards, at least in Durham's hands as a singer, and lead one to believe that she could've had a career scoring musicals, had she been born 40 years earlier (and she still could on TV -- "I Wanna Dance to Your Music" sounds like a television series scenario set stunningly to music). One of the two new bonus tracks on the CD, "Gloryland," is a doubly interesting cut as well as a killer performance, for it is the kind of song that the Seekers might've done, and would've done as four big voices with acoustic 6- and 12-string guitars -- here, it's got a jazz band accompaniment and give Durham a chance to soar as a solo vocal in ways that her Seekers fans could drop their jaws over. The album is also a dazzling showcase for the Hottest Band in Town (especially pianist/arranger Ron Edgeworth), who display a love and familiarity with this repertory the equal of Durham's. There's not a weak moment on the album, which is a must-own for fans of big-band jazz or blues vocals.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 3:09
2 2:51
3 3:03
4 4:30
5 3:55
6 2:43
8 3:25
9 2:51
10 3:53
11 3:03
13 2:52
14 2:43
15 2:15
blue highlight denotes track pick