LaVerne Butler

Blues in the City

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Shreveport, LA native Laverne Butler came up in a musical family, and she's learned her lessons well. She sings jazz, blues and gospel in a manner quite reminiscent of Nancy Wilson, with a sleek, supple voice that oozes class. There are no gimmicky affectations or cutesy inflections, just straight soul. Backed by pianist/producer Bruce Barth and bassist John Webber -- both first-class players -- and drummer Klaus Suonsaari, Butler sings some of her favorite standards known worldwide. The CD starts with a string of tunes, including a swinging "This Bitter Earth," a ballad treatment of "Please Send Me Someone to Love," and a slow "Hit the Road Jack" -- all employ background singers, sometimes using sweeping doo-wahs or call-and-response jiving. An up blues, "One for My Baby," (without the singers) lets Butler cut loose and show she can stand on her own. After a Barth trio number, the instrumental waltz "Late Sunday Afternoon," the singer gets on a roll for the remainder of the program with solid, honest melancholia on "I'm a Fool to Want You," a fine "Born to Be Blue," a light blue "Don't Let the Sun Catch You Crying," and the gospel original of Butler's "All That I Know." She finally gets animated, shouting on "Since I Fell for You," while doting and crying out on the finale "Backwater Blues." There is also Quicktime video bonus track of "Days of Wine & Roses." The second half of this recording has some powerful sounds, attesting to the ability Butler already has. She's good, and bound to get better.

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