Judith Owen: Come On & Get It

The Wales-born, NO-resident singer offers powerful performances inspired by such as Nellie Lutcher, Dinah Washington and Blossom Dearie

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Welsh singer-pianist Judith Owen now lives in New Orleans. She’s recorded and toured with Richard Thompson and she supported Bryan Ferry during his UK tour.

Owen became intrigued as a young girl by the risqué lyrics of female vocalists after finding records by Nellie Lutcher and Julia Lee that had been hidden by her father. Come On & Get It (Owen’s 13th album) celebrates these and kindred singers like Dinah Washington and Blossom Dearie who delivered similarly suggestive songs in the 40s and 50s. One of them, Julie London’s Nice Girls Don’t Stay For Breakfast, was actually first recorded in 1967, but no one’s complaining.

In keeping with the spirit of things, just as Julia Lee’s band was called “Her Boyfriends”, Owen refers to hers as “Her Gentlemen Callers”. On cornet is Kevin Louis who’s played with Jimmy Heath, Carmen Lundy and Gary Bartz amongst others. His splendid accompaniments are much in the manner of John Chilton’s trumpet playing with that other salty songster, George Melly. The excellent David Torkanowsky (Cyrille Aimée) is on piano; Lex Warshawsky (Cyrille Aimée and Adonis Rose) is on bass and in-demand Pedro Segundo (Ronnie Scott’s All Stars, Dennis Rollins and Kansas Smitty) is on drums. For a taste, try this: Blossom’s Blues.

Every song on the album is a gem delivered with crystal clear intonation by Owen and superb musicianship from the band. There are guest artists along the way who I understand to include 89-year-old Preservation Hall Jazz Band reedsman Charlie Gabriel, Donald Harrison Jr, Jason Marsalis, Nicholas Payton, Evan Christopher and saxophonist Ricardo Pascal. I think they mostly feature in the recording’s three big-band numbers and there’s great saxophone playing on some of the tracks but unfortunately there’s a lack of detail about any of the artists on the promotional CD that I received. Perhaps more information will be on the commercially available issue. Either way, it’s a smashing album and highly recommended.

Discography
Blossom’s Blues; Satchel Mouth Baby; The Spinach Song; Tess’s Torch Song; He’s A Tramp; He’s A Real Gone Guy; Big Long Slidin’ Thing; Fine Brown Frame; Everything I’ve Got Belongs To You; Come On & Get It Honey; Nice Girls Don’t Stay For Breakfast; Why Don’t You Do Right?; Snatch & Grab It; Long John Blues (51.10)
Owen (v); Kevin Louis (c); David Torkanowsky (p); Lex Warshawsky (b); Pedro Segundo (d). Guests: Charlie Gabriel, Donald Harrison Jr, Jason Marsalis, Nicholas Payton, Evan Christopher, Ricardo Pascal. New Orleans, 2022.
Twanky Records TWR 00201