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Irene Reid: The Uptown Lowdown

Irene Reid is known as a vocalist who can do it all. From jazz to blues to R&B, she has tackled the repertoire of female singers and added her own singular talents to the mix. Her latest recording, The Uptown Lowdown, finds her once again offering refreshing interpretations of time-honored jazz and blues tunes.

The disc also features the late organist Charles “The Mighty Burner” Earland on one of his last recordings before his untimely death in December of last year. It is immediately apparent upon listening to this disc that Earland will be greatly missed by Reid. Their chemistry bespeaks a musical relationship based upon mutual trust, respect and admiration. Things get started early on the disc when Reid takes on Fats Domino’s 1957 hit “I’m Walkin'” for the opening track. Earland’s solo on the tune almost perfectly augments Reid’s soul-drenched and inspired vocal performance.

Tenor saxophonist Eric Alexander cleverly introduces the vocal bridge of the classic tune “Candy” and his slow-burning solo on “Mama, He Treats Your Daughter Mean” is the perfect response to the intense call offered by Reid on this medium-tempo burner. The familiarity of the tunes covered on this record provides an immediate reference for listeners but does not prevent Reid from infusing each song with her original, blues-driven approach.

Nowhere is this more apparent that on the R Kelly tune “I Believe I Can Fly.” On this song, Reid takes a good contemporary soul tune and offers an extraordinary remake. On “If I Never Get to Heaven,” Reid proves that her timing is impeccable, swinging through the tune’s skillful arrangement of starts and stops with unbelievable ease. Indeed, Reid seems to possess an effortless ability to offer dramatic and soulful interpretations on each of the disc’s eight tunes.

Originally Published