rickie lee jones 8/12/11

They’ve got another top-notch line-up at the Lowell Summer Music Series this summer, and it’s hard to pick and choose among them, spreading my music dollar thin. Tonight was definitely a no-miss – Rickie Lee Jones in town for the evening to perform on the Boarding House Park stage.

Occidental Gypsy – a blend of gypsy jazz and modern pop – opened the night. A superb group of musicians, with a special nod to Brett Feldman on lead guitar and violinist Jakub Trasak, who put me in mind of Stephan Grapelli. Exquisite. Check them out on YouTube playing “Gypsy Blues.”

It’s got to be going on 20 years since I’ve seen Rickie Lee in concert and I’d lost touch with her music during that time, so this was an excellent opportunity to see what she’s up to now. Her voice is still that incredible machine that goes to all the right places. She hasn’t lost a beat; in fact, her mature voice is as compelling as it’s ever been, only richer.

And what a band. Lead and bass guitars, B3 Hammond organ, drums and three-member brass section, with Rickie Lee alternating between guitar and piano, it’s a big sound, doing extreme justice to the songs, most of which were from her early albums, including favorites like “Chuck E’s In Love,” “Easy Money,” “Coolsville” and “Last Chance.” It’s as though the 20 years in between simply faded away. I love how she effortlessly moves through jazz and blues and folk, and probably a little country and pop in there too, giving them all her sultry-voiced stamp.

Ace singer and ace band. A must-see if you can.

 

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