2011-08-10Like a splash of fresh water, this new disc by Twin-Cities based Davina Sowers and her hot ensemble, the Vagabonds, mixes New Orleans jazz rhythms with the blues, ragtime, soul and a touch of gospel. The five piece crew including Davina on piano plus an upright bass, drums, a trombone and a trumpet, throws out the sonic punch of a much larger ensemble as evidenced right off the bat on the instrumental "Vagabond Stomp" that opens and closes this disc. Like Hazmat Modine or Leon Redbone, this crew isn’t afraid to sound like they are visiting from the 20’s or 30’s. You can easily imagine them captivating the night club crowd in a black and white Woody Allen set piece or sharing the stage with the likes of Louis Prima and Keely Smith or Les Paul and Mary Ford. Even though the horns and Davina’s fleet fingered piano work keep cuts like "Disappears" and "Start Runnin’" toe-tappingly upbeat, they can also lay way back in the groove as evidenced by the soulful, heartfelt ballads, "River" and "Sugar Moon". While the band favors jazz accents for most of the material it goes to church on the hymn "Carry Him with You" and lays down some blues on "Lipstick and Chrome". Tying this wonderful musical collection together is Davina’s nimble, coquettish voice which can’t help but to produce a smile on your face as bright as the twinkle in her eye that comes through on every line. Smitty
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