Maria Muldaur is the best qualified present-day singer to do versions of the great urban blues classics of the 20’s, 30’s and 40’s made memorable by a host of legendary female voices. That’s because MM has spent her entire life absorbing this music. Her latest release on Stony Plain Records is titled "Naughty, Bawdy & Blue" and it’s the third jewel in the trilogy that started with "Richland Woman Blues" and Lovin’ Ol’ Soul".
Maria is a Roots Mama for sure: a resolute keeper of the traditional flame. It’s interesting to note she was mentored by blues legend Victoria Spivey back when she was still known as Maria D’Amato. Muldaur pays royal homage to her mentor on "TB Blues" and "One Hour Mama". She also recorded with Sippie Wallace back in the 60’s when she was a member of the Kweskin Jug Band. She summons up the past like no one else can on Sippie’s "Up The Country Blues".
On "Naughty Bawdy & Blue" the general emphasis is on those ribald lusty songs in vogue during much of the 20’s, 30’s, and 40’s. It’s performed in a style that draws from the twin traditions of "down-and-dirty" blues and vaudeville theatricality. Delivery-wise, her suggestive and sassiness affords believability to the torrid lyrics. The femmes feted include Ma Rainey, Mamie Smith, Alberta Hunter, and, Bessie Smith, and especially Victoria Spivey in whose memory the CD is dedicated.
Maria Muldaur could have done this trilogy 30 years ago, right after "Midnight At The Oasis" became a huge hit. But her respect for the songs and her admiration for these Queens Of The Blues gave her pause. As she explains "When I started out, I knew many of these songs, but I didn’t have the experience to interpret them in the way that I can now".
The arrangements are superb and Maria is backed up by the top-flight James Dapogny Chicago Jazz band, while Bonnie Raitt puts in a guest appearance on Sippie Wallaces’ "Separation Blues". Yet, when all is said and done, her vocals are delivered in such a captivating and evocative fashion that after listening to "Naughty Bawdy & Blue" you’ll wish you could buy another white orchid to adorn Maria Muldaur’s flowing tresses.