Mississippi Belle: Cole Porter in the Quarter
Four years after her laudable, post-Katrina New O’leans, vocalist-pianist Daryl Sherman returns to the French Quarter’s Audiophile Studios for this wide-ranging salute to Cole Porter. Again Sherman favors local musicians, this time limiting her accompanists to just two: reedman Tom Fischer (a holdover from New O’leans) and bassist Jesse Boyd, both simpatico choices.
Porter and the Crescent City may seem an odd pairing. With the exception of the sentimental title track (written for a never-produced Hollywood musical), Porter’s urbane lyricism has always felt distinctly Yankee. Nor do Boyd and Fischer set out to infuse these 13 tracks with any overt regional flavor. Sherman—belle of Manhattan’s elite for 14 years while showcased at the Waldorf Astoria, where the Steinway she tickled once belonged to Porter—maintains her trademark blend of girlish charm and winking sophistication, akin to a cozy commingling of Blossom Dearie and Lee Wiley.
Still, there’s a laidback charm pervading the album that seems right at home in the Big Easy. Along the way, Sherman unearths such rarities as “By the Mississinewah,” Porter’s playful homage to the Indiana river of his youth, transformed into a freewheeling romp with guest vocalist Banu Gibson; “Tale of the Oyster,” with its lighthearted poke at high society; and the coyly romantic “Where Have You Been?”