Many of us in New Orleans have listened to Kathleen Lee’s swing music show on WWOZ for years. What a nice surprise, then, for us to hear her sing on this debut disc. If some of the covers (“All of Me,” “Fever”) are a little shopworn, other cuts are anything but ordinary. Her powerful take on “Something Real” makes one wish for more material in a gospel vein, and “Meet My Baby on the Night Train” is delivered with just the right soupçon of coyness. In a clever move, her only original here is delivered twice, first in French, then seven tracks later in English, and both artfully.
Backing her are stellar locals, including Jamil Sharif, Clarence Johnson III, Matt Rhody and nearly a dozen others. This is a project with a lot of soul behind it; let’s hope she gets the same airplay that she has given so many hundreds of artists over the years.