REVIEWS

Miss Freddye - Lady of the Blues

My heart sinks when I receive a new CD from an artist I have never heard of and I brace myself for a re-tread of the past, as most independent blues CDs being released these days either reminisce too closely to the classics and faithfully churn out audio replicas absent the originals' venom - or "water-down" their musical performances in searching of "perfect" takes in terms of intonation and performance - but not so with Miss Freddye and her spirited studio band (she has two live performing bands; a trio and a 4-piece blues band). Miss Freddye has put together and sung for us a collection of (all but one) original songs working with producers Andy Santana and Kid Anderson at Greaseland Studio in San Jose, California. Andy Santana co-wrote many of the songs on this album. He sings backup, and plays harmonica & guitar for Miss Freddye on this album and when he's not producing - he plays with the "West Coast Playboys" who often feature Anderson at their live shows.

The album opens with an original written by Mike Sweeney called "Miss Freddye's Gonna Fix Ya" with a restrained harmonica supplied by the talented John Nemeth. The band is superb, the groove is locked-in, deep, fun and serious, as are all the songs on this fine album. The producers have a done a superb job in contrasting the instrumentation and tempos through the entire album so there's no audio-exhaustion as you listen to it in sequence. Brandon G. Benz "Dr. B" plays excellent harmonica where it appears on other songs besides the first song - and is credited for arranging "Luv Ya Baby" - which has a great arrangement! (Including Santana - there are three different harmonica players on this album.) Listening to this album makes you wish you were there in the room with the band as they were playing. The title track "Lady of the Blues" is a solid groove (in the manner of - dare I say it - of "Mustang Sally") - if Ms. Freddye's voice were removed you might think this track was performed by Booker T & the MGs. The horn section is punchy, tuneful, exciting, well-thought out and perform perfectly with occasional solos punching through to the forefront. Kid Anderson (Santana's co-producer) arranged the horns and plays electric guitar perfectly throughout - soloing where needed and punching in ensemble parts that lock in nicely with the rhythm section.

Appropriately - for a singer from Pittsburg (and known as Pittsburgh's Lady of the Blues) working with a West Coast Production Team, who all together evidence a love of the music of New Orleans, the album reveals a geographically and historically wide perspective of blues ranging from Delta bar-room brawling to the sometime melancholy singing of Chicago Blues clubs in the late 50s. Miss Freddye's voice is astonishingly good, she can move effortlessly from a howling prohibition-era juke joint to the misty smoke-filled Hollywood martini-soaked almost spoken and whispered word singing of "Don't Aplogize, Recognize" or the descending minor key melancholia of "Doorway to the Blues" either of which could be seamlessly added to Sarah Vaughn or Billie Holiday's repertoire. If you knew me - you'd know I lean towards the up-tempo - and Miss Freddye commands such songs and the band and with expert phrasing, pitch, energy and joy. This album covers all the tempos and moods that you might hope for in a live blues concert. Miss Freddye's vocal range, phrasing and voice is inspired - as is the song-writing, the production and the musical performances on this great album.

— Conrad Warre

footnote: Miss Freddye's website is www.missfreddye.com
The album credits are as follows:
Kid Anderson - guitar/backup vocals
Endre Tarczy - bass
June Core - drums
Eric Spaulding - tenor & baritone saxaphone
John Halbleib - trumpet
Brand G. Bentz "Dr. B" - harmonica
Andy Santana - harmonica/backup vocals
John Blues Boyd - vocals
Lisa Anderson - backup vocals
Robby Yamilov - backup vocals
Producers: Andy Santana & Kid Anderson
Co-producer: Lisa Anderson

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