Martha & the Moodswingers

Hep Cat's Holiday

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This North Carolina-based quintet's blend of swing, jive, and jump blues is a refreshing break from the more bombastic big-band punk-swing that came into vogue in the latter half of the 1990s. Martha and the Moodswingers' sound is built around the sweet voice of bandleader Martha Bassett and the harmonies of bassist Keith Buckner and guitarist Jim Carson. While everyone plays expertly, the instruments serve the vocals at all times, and that approach yields a relatively gentle but still highly danceable result. On its debut album, the group delivers a varied program that includes arrangements of Duke Ellington's "Solitude" and "Mood Indigo," as well as such jump blues standards as "Choo Choo Ch'Boogie" and "Drinking Wine Spo-dee-o-dee." A number of songs, including the title track and the delightful "One Is Never Too Old to Swing," are from the repertoire of the Cats and the Fiddle, an obscure swing band that was briefly popular in the '30s. All of the performances are imbued with a joyful warmth and, needless to say, everything swings, swings, swings.