2010: The Year of BC’s Jazz & Blues Queen, Maureen Washington!

CD Reviews
Title: Here We Go Again
Artist: Daniel Cook and Maureen Washington
Label: Independent
Released: 2010
Stars: 4.0

Maureen Washington is a very busy woman. In 2010, she produced two new albums, worked full time as a jazz and blues singer, took 8 music classes, worked part-time as a bookkeeper and continued to raise her five children! Throughout it all she maintains a stellar smile, a sense of humour and carries herself with grace and style. She has also recently been nominated for Female Vocalist of the Year in the Vancouver Island Music Awards and is #1 on the ReverbNation Jazz Charts for Canada.

Here We Go Again is a slickly produced, “funkified urban jazz” album filled with classy, mature material presented by Victoria, BC’s accomplished guitarist Daniel Cook and the velvety smooth, clear and impassioned alto vocals of Maureen Washington. Six of the eight featured songs are written by Cook and Washington with the exception of “The Right Stuff” (Cook & Kosowick) and “Love This Life” (Cook) and all of them are about the complexities of the romantic relationship – the struggles, fears, hopes and heartbreaks that make up that rollercoaster ride known as love.

Cook and Washington’s partnership is practiced, professional and extremely comfortable which is evident not only from their collaborations on the CD but also in the cover artwork (the friends are bound together by what appears to be a white cable) which illustrates their sense of playfulness and humour. It is obvious that this pair have a great time making music together! From the opening chords of “Twisted” through to the positively uplifting gospel jazz closing number, “Love This Life”, Here We Go Again is an absolute joy to the ears!

Backed by superb musicians including Ross MacDonald (bass), Damian Graham (drums), Bryn Badel (trumpet), Jerry Cook (saxophone), Brad Hawkins (percussion), Nick La Riviere (trombone) and Chris Van Sickle (keyboards), each track is a testament to the fact that Maureen Washington not only has the right stuff and all that you need, but she’s definitely learned some lessons from her misery and bliss as well.

Perfect for a dinner party or a night of sensual dance, standouts include: “Here We Go Again” – an island calypso number with fabulous horns; “Shooting Star” which brings a reggae beat and prominent bass line to light; “Forget Me Not” – a waltz that summons memories of the finest offerings from Billie Holiday or Roberta Flack; and my favourite, “Let’s Make It Happen” which sizzles with a sexy, blues/funk reverberation (and excellent guitar solo by Cook) that will have you shaking your booty from one end of the dance floor to the other! I LOVE this album!

Title: Blues In The Night…and stories my Mama told me
Artist: Maureen Washington
Label: Independent
Released: 2010
Stars: 3.0

Maureen took a completely different direction with Blues In The Night…and stories my Mama told me, a collection in which she pays tribute to 10 superlative blues and jazz classics and records them with stripped down production that includes only her seamless vocals and Karel Roessingh’s expert keys.

On this CD, Maureen pays homage to her mother by singing some of her all-time favourite “breaka my heart songs” including “At Last”, “You Don’t Know Me”, “Georgia On My Mind” and “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face.” Although she hits every note perfectly, most of her performances have a restrained feel to them and I was left wishing she would have let go and allowed herself to get a bit more wild and passionate.

My favourite tracks include “Peel Me A Grape”, “Blues In The Night” (which includes an excellent piano solo by Roessingh) and “A Nightingale Sang In Berkeley Square.” While not unpleasant by any means, most of the other songs are comprised of such a mellow tempo and quiet atmosphere that I could fall asleep listening to them. The CD ends with a sassier, growling version of “Stormy Monday” that wakes you up and does Maureen proud.

The only regrettable thing about Maureen Washington is that she lives on Vancouver Island and performs primarily in British Columbia so the rest of us in Canada are missing out on the opportunity to experience her talent and charm live and in person. However, I will keep looking forward to the day that the opportunity arises!

Maureen Washington & Karrel Roessingh perform “Blues In The Night”

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One comment

  1. Maureen · March 21, 2011

    Words can not describe how big my heart feels on your review Christine!!

    THANK YOU SO MUCH!!

    Diva M

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