Dorothy Doring,
Southern Exposure
(Quarter Note, 2005)

Flashback to the 1960s: your parents drag you out yet again on another family vacation to the Poconos, the Catskills or even to Atlantic City, sans gambling. You get to stay at a multi-level hotel that has an outdoor pool and a view of the leaves/mountains/ocean. If you're lucky, some kids about your age might be among the other guests at the place, and you'll have someone to talk to during the day without having to explain yourself. And every night -- even though you would rather stay in the room to see what kind of television reception might exist in such a different venue ("You can watch TV at home!") -- your parents insist you accompany them to the hotel lounge. There they can have a few drinks and smokes, you can have a Coke, and you'll all listen to the measured sounds emanating from the little combo scrunched into the back corner of a dark room. The music's not exactly to your liking, since none of the selections are from the Top 40 radio stations you are addicted to. But at least you can recognize that the female vocalist is quite good, the musicians are talented and the drummer is, of course, downright cute.

Rouse yourself from your reverie! It's the 21st century, and you're listening to singer Dorothy Doring, accompanied by some friends on Southern Exposure. It's not your parents' music anymore. Dorothy offers 10 selections of light jazz classics here, including passionate renditions of "Besame Mucho," "Nice Work If You Can Get It," "The Good Life," "A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square," John Coltrane's "Giant Steps" and "That Old Black Magic." If the last time you heard "I Love Paris" was when Meg Ryan's character used it as a mantra to cover up her fear of flying in the movie French Kiss, then you are in for a real treat here. It scarcely feels like the same song. But wait! Two of these tunes are actually from the Top 40! When was the last time you heard "Don't Let the Sun Catch You Cryin'" and "What the World Needs Now"? (And where are Burt Bacharach and Hal David these days, anyway?) The album ends with an even newer jazz composition, Abbey Lincoln's "Throw It Away" from the mid-1990s.

Though Doring is based in Minnesota, she recorded Southern Exposure in New Orleans and dedicated this recording to the city, its history, its music and its people. She and her bandmates honor the jazz tradition of the delta with this album. Her voice is strong and expressive and a joy to listen to. Her back-up band is indeed talented and provides just the right foundation (piano, sax, guitar, upright bass, drums/percussion) for Doring's spirited and precise melodies. The result should appeal not only to jazz fans but to anyone who appreciates good music, well-played. Southern Exposure deserves a wide audience and ranks well above the artistic attempts we heard in those hotel lounges more than 40 years ago. I wonder what her drummers look like?

[ visit the artist's website ]

review by
Corinne H. Smith

31 May 2008

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