Making her Telarc debut, Ann Hampton Callaway comes out strong with Blues in the Night, featuring the title track she made famous in the musical 'Swing'. There are fiery original tunes such as 'I'm-Too-White to-Sing-the-Blues, ' 'Swingin'Away the Blues,' and 'Hip to Be Happy'. Ann brings in a cache of performers to guide her through the night including the DIVA Jazz Orchestra under the direction of Sherrie Maricle, her longtime accompanist Ted Rosenthal, Christian McBride, and Lewis Nash. Ann also performs a medley 'Stormy Weather / When the Sun Comes Out' with her sister Liz Callaway.
On this album, jazz-cabaret singer-songwriter Ann Hampton Callaway pays tribute to her hometown Chicago's best-known musical export, the blues-though her take is largely devoid of that genre's pared-down grit, instead exploring two of its offshoots: a sophisticated, elusive melancholy and upbeat, horn-heavy swing jazz. Callaway's penchant for the latter is evidenced by the jumping opening track, "Swingin' Away the Blues" and the percolating "Lover Come Back to Me" (on which she integrates her trademark scat singing). A "blue" mood is evoked on, for instance, "Blue Moon" and a not-entirely-convincing take on Sondheim's "No One Is Alone." But Callaway is also among the rare performers in the cabaret scene to write some of her own material, and she obliges here as well, with good results on the humorous "The I'm-Too-White-to-Sing-the-Blues Blues" (on which she emulates brass instruments) and "Hip to Be Happy." --Elisabeth Vincentelli