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Barbara Dane | Throw It Away... (feat. Tammy Hall)

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Jazz: Jazz Vocals Blues: Classic Female Blues Moods: Featuring Piano
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Throw It Away... (feat. Tammy Hall)

by Barbara Dane

At 89 years old, legendary singer Barbara Dane brings all her swing, wit and wisdom to these songs, inspired by her collaboration with pianist Tammy Hall: some old things with new looks, some new things with old roots, some new things hot off the griddle.
Genre: Jazz: Jazz Vocals
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  Song Share Time Download
1. Sellin' My Porkchops
4:14 $0.99
2. Slow
5:07 $0.99
3. Throw It Away
6:56 $0.99
4. American Tune
4:22 $0.99
5. Blues over Bodega
4:38 $0.99
6. Kugelsburg Bank
2:55 $0.99
7. King Salmon Blues
7:06 $0.99
8. All Too Soon
7:35 $0.99
9. Tell Me How Long Blues
5:35 $0.99
10. How Can You Face Me?
2:53 $0.99
11. In My Life
3:44 album only
12. What Kind of Country?
3:42 $0.99
13. My Brain
5:57 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
Barbara Dane has never been intimidated by borders, not between human beings and not between their musical expressions. She calls her new CD Throw It Away... and in the spirit of Abbey Lincoln’s song, penned late in life, she shows us the joy in letting go, living and loving each day without reservation, as if it were the last.

When Barbara burst onto the scene in the late 1950s, Playboy magazine’s jazz critic Leonard Feather called her “Bessie Smith in Stereo” and Time magazine described her voice as “pure, rich . . . rare as a 20 karat diamond.” Now, in the final year of her 8th decade, her rich alto tones retain their customary warmth, but instead of shouting the blues, she puts her voice right in your ear, where it belongs.

In this latest recording, with the support of Tammy Hall’s elegant piano work, new doors have opened and Barbara has found new ways of communicating, using a more relaxed and intimate way of singing. Her first newly recorded work in 14 years, the project is being issued on Dreadnaught Music, her own label. (You can find nine of her classic albums on her website, www.barbaradane.net, and another six of her earlier recordings can be purchased from Smithsonian Folkways, www.folkways.si.edu)

Dallas-born, San Francisco-based pianist Tammy Hall is the latest of great piano players to have recorded with Dane, including Earl “Fatha” Hines, Don Ewell, Ray Skjelbred, Butch Thompson, and Kenny Whitson. Hall’s approach to the piano reflects her deep classical chops but remains steeped in tradition, always honest and always jazz. “She pays attention to what the singer is saying, and this is rare. Tammy knows how to clarify my meaning through the music,” Dane says of Hall. “Her soloing bares her own feelings while she takes you further and deeper into yours. And oh my, does she swing!”

Used to working with some of the best bass players in jazz history—beginning with Pops Foster and Wellman Braud—Barbara felt that Ruth Davies, a much-in-demand Bay Area-based player known for her years of work with Elvin Bishop and the late Charles Brown, was the one to call for this project. Rounding out the core trio is Dane’s longtime friend, drummer Bill Maginnis: “I can always count on him to participate with taste and impeccable rhythm.” Maginnis adds just the right amount of coloration, without ever becoming a distraction.

Barbara’s son Pablo Menéndez, leader of the Cuban group Mezcla, produced the date on a visit from his home in Havana. And although his main instrument is guitar, here he blows some terrific blues harp on three tracks. The other special guest on the project is trad jazz veteran Richard Hadlock, who contributes soulful soprano sax on the ballad “All Too Soon.”

This is Barbara’s most eclectic and subtle set of songs to date. Starting out with a juicy Memphis Minnie blues, she explores tunes from the jazz canon by Abbey Lincoln, Duke Ellington, and Fats Waller; songs by singer-songwriters Leonard Cohen, Paul Simon, and Lennon-McCartney; two original blues and one old folk tune reimagined by Mose Allison with new words by Dane, a hilarious jazz waltz and a country-style topical song by a local postman.

“I’m Sellin’ My Porkchops” was written and recorded by Memphis Minnie in 1935. A favorite of fans at Dane’s live performances, she is frequently asked on which of her albums it appears. “None” was the answer until now.

Leonard Cohen’s “Slow” reflects Dane’s new soft, almost spoken approach to some of her material. “That’s a woman’s song if I ever heard one,” says Barbara, “and I don't care if Leonard claims it. He’s channeling somebody!”

Abbey Lincoln’s “Throw It Away,” Dane says, “has been lingering in my mind since I first heard it. I was struck by the poetry of it and its philosophy. You can tell that Tammy loves playing it. And when she brings in that ‘Spanish tinge’ you want to get up and dance.”

The sentiments heard in Dane’s poignant reading of “American Tune” remain as relevant today as when Paul Simon first wrote it in 1973. It reflects the disillusionment with the American Dream that young people were feeling then; unfortunately these feelings still confront us today.

Barbara first recorded “Blues Over Bodega” with famed San Francisco trumpeter and traditional jazz catalyst Lu Watters in 1964 as part of a protest movement that succeeded in stopping the Pacific Gas & Electric utility company from building a nuclear reactor near the town of Bodega on the Northern California coast, directly on the San Andreas Fault. Dane and company now reprise the song with slightly revised lyrics and a new rhythmic approach.

Based on a true story and composed by Dallas singer-songwriter Lu Mitchell, “The Kugelsburg Bank” is a tongue-in-cheek jazz waltz about “old lady power.”

“King Salmon Blues” is a Dane original. Climate change and human meddling have put the long-range survival of many local fish species at risk. This blues asks the important question: what are we going to do about this? In their long introductory duet, the notes of Menéndez’s harmonica become the fish in Hall’s musical river. You can almost see them!

“All Too Soon,” composed by Duke Ellington and recorded first as an instrumental by his orchestra in 1940, is one of his loveliest melodies, yet the lyrics added by Carl Sigman for Mildred Bailey’s recording the following year were embarrassingly mundane and later renderings by Sarah Vaughan, Ella Fitzgerald, and Peggy Lee went nowhere. Barbara Dane’s attempt to rectify the problem with words of her own comes off wonderfully well, making the song into a two-act playlet which guest artist Richard Hadlock movingly embellishes on soprano sax. Even with both singer and player in their eighties, we are touched by its romance.

“Tell Me How Long” is based on the “How Long Blues,” an eight-bar standard popularized by Leroy Carr in 1928 but first recorded by Ida Cox and Papa Charlie Jackson three years earlier in 1925. Keeping the iconic chorus, Dane wrote all new verses illustrating the problems of working people today, among them a postal clerk, a seamstress who needs a green card, and the widow of a soldier sent off to fight in Iraq. Dane’s way of singing it is inherited from Estella “Mama” Yancey, Jimmy’s widow, for whom it was a signature lament.

Dane says that Andy Razaf’s lyrics to Fats Waller’s “How Can You Face Me?” about treachery of the romantic sort remind her of the lies regularly told to the American people by Washington politicians. But nothing could be more genuine than Tammy Hall’s hot rendition of Waller-style stride piano!

The singer’s heartfelt reading of “In My Life,” from the Beatles’ Rubber Soul album, is dedicated to the three most important people in her life: her children, Jesse Cahn, 67, Pablo Menéndez, 63; and Nina Menéndez, 60. “I tried my best to stay on pitch at the end, where my emotions got the best of me,” says Barbara. “But the song says it exactly right.”

“What Kind of Country” by Berkeley activist and postal worker Dave “Redd” Welsh offers biting commentary on the economic and educational inequality that permeates much of life in the United States. “Redd has finally begun to record and perform the wonderful songs he’s been writing all along. This one really grabbed me, and he was kind enough to let me record it too,” says Barbara.

The set closes with a melody that’s been around since before it was initially published in 1917 as “The Crawdad Song.” It soon became “This Train Is Bound for Glory” as rendered by Sister Rosetta Tharpe, and by 1954 it became a hit for Little Walter as “My Babe” with words by Willie Dixon. In 2010 it reappeared as “My Brain” by Mose Allison. “I kept Mose’s great idea of changing ‘train’ to ‘brain,’ and two or three of his verses but scrapped his punch line,” Dane says. “Then I wrote another eight or ten verses because I had more to say. Everybody loves to play it, that’s why the tune has lived so long!”

In the 1950s and ’60s the Detroit-born Barbara Dane performed and recorded with many of the greats of jazz & blues including Earl Hines, Jack Teagarden, Benny Carter, Lightnin’ Hopkins, the Chambers Brothers, Memphis Slim, and Willie Dixon. Her first album, Trouble in Mind, appeared in 1957 on the San Francisco Records label. She recorded Livin’ with the Blues for Dot in 1959 with a combo that included Hines, Shelly Manne, and Benny Carter on trumpet instead of his usual alto saxophone. Dane appeared on national TV’s Timex Jazz Show with Louis Armstrong and was featured on Playboy After Dark, receiving a special award from Hugh Hefner as one of the outstanding jazz artists of the year. She scored a Top 40 hit in 1960 with a single on the Trey label titled “I’m on My Way” that was produced by Lee Hazlewood and Lester Sill and has become a cult classic in recent years on England’s Northern Soul scene. Her album On My Way (Capitol records, 1961) featured a different version of the song, which can be heard throughout the 2010 PBS special Freedom Riders.

Never confining herself to one genre, Dane also performed and recorded folk and world music, taking a cue from early mentor Pete Seeger. As a frequent headliner at the Ash Grove in Los Angeles, many young singers such as Jackson Browne, Taj Mahal, Bonnie Raitt, and Ry Cooder were exposed to her music. In the 1960s and ’70s, she sang at demonstrations in Washington and in small towns all over America, from the Freedom Schools of rural Mississippi to the gates of military bases in Japan and Europe. In l966, Barbara became the first American musician to tour post-revolutionary Cuba. Outspoken and indomitable, she never allowed mainstream blacklisting to slow her down and her voice continues to sing out for social justice, civil rights and against war.

With Throw It Away... Barbara Dane’s return to recording at age 89 reveals a unique and uncompromising artist whose command of melody and lyrics remains intact, who has never lost her sense of humor, and whose depth of feeling has only ripened more richly over the years.


RICHARD HADLOCK, soprano sax: #8
PABLO MENENDEZ, blues harp: #5, #7, #9



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