"Retta Christie with
David Evans and Dave Frishberg, vol. 2":
New CD to Be Released May 18
By the Portland Vocalist's Retta Records
April 26, 2010
|Retta Christie makes American music to be enjoyed. If the Portland vocalist has a heartfelt reaction to a song, she sings it her own way,
the style or tradition whence it came. She draws from Western swing, jazz, country and
western, and the Great American Songbook and makes all of it her own.|
surprising song choices, her breezy sense of swing, and her gift for conveying
the emotional essence of a lyric are in ample display on her new CD, Retta
Christie with David Evans and Dave Frishberg, vol. 2. Her own imprint,
Retta Records, will release the disc on May 18.
Both volumes of the Dave
and David collaboration (the first was in 2008) celebrate Christie's personal
and creative relationship with cornetist/pianist Jim Goodwin, who died in 2009. Christie and Goodwin met in his hometown
and as they started sharing their musical passions, they discovered
considerable common ground despite the prejudice that often casts country music
and jazz as antithetical.
"I was immersed in older country and western, and Jim was obsessed with
older jazz, and we both learned about each other's music," Christie says. "He
introduced me to this whole world of early jazz, and I quickly started to
realize that it wasn't so different from what I was doing. Understanding that
connection has really been the foundation of my music ever since."
introduced her to Dave Frishberg (left in photo),
who's been based in Portland since 1986, and it
was Frishberg who brought in David Evans (right in photo),
the Portland-by-way-of-New Orleans
tenor saxophonist and clarinetist. (There's
a third instrumentalist on the CD: "In a marvel of coordination and breath
control," annotator Doug Ramsey writes, "Retta plays brushes on a snare drum.")
With the exception of "You Always Hurt
the One You Love," a hit for the Mills Brothers in 1944, and "'Neath the Purple on the Hills,"
recorded in 1940 by Cliff Bruner and his Texas Wanderers, all the songs on Volume
2 date from the 1920s and '30s. Frishberg suggested "A Sailboat in the Moonlight" and "Foolin' Myself," both recorded by Billie
Holiday (though he gave her Herb Jeffries's version of the latter). Christie
also sings "I Get the Blues When It
Rains," "Old Folks," and "I Only Want a Buddy Not a Sweetheart."
working with Dave and David," Christie says. "They're incredibly
supportive musically and as friends. They play from their hearts. And Dave
[Frishberg] is a fabulous accompanist. You're being delivered something on a
silver platter. He makes things so easy."
Retta Christie came by her passion for Western
swing very early on. Born in rural Astoria, Oregon, in 1959, she and her family
regularly attended community dances at the local Grange hall, which often
hosted Western swing bands. "I was absolutely in love with cowboys and horses,"
she says, "and I liked the music that went with them."
college graduation (an art degree at Skidmore), she returned to Astoria and
before long had launched her Retta and
the Smart Fellas, a five-piece Western swing combo. In the mid-1980s she also
began working as a deejay, with a radio show focusing on old-time Western
swing. For more than a decade, she's hosted a weekly program on KBOO, "The
recording with Dave and David, Christie made two Smart Fellas sessions -- Rural Jazz (2000) and They Took the Stars Out of Heaven (2003) -- for Retta Records, featuring Jim
Goodwin on piano, fiddler Kevin
Healy, guitarist Jesse Johnson,
and bassist Bill Uhlig, with Retta
on vocals and rhythm guitar. "They're authentic Western swing players,"
Frishberg has said, "and they can swing you into bad health."
will be performing with Frishberg and trombonist John Moak 5/8 at the Silverton (OR) Jazz Festival, and with Evans and Frishberg
5/16 at the Old Church in Portland
(2:00-4:00 pm). She'll
also be at Portland's
Brasserie Montmartre 6/18 with
saxophonist Lee Wuthenow and pianist Dan Gaynor.