Memories Of Celebrating the Classics of Etta James
Kaz Hawkins, vocal prowess that delights lovers of blues across the world needs no introduction. Etta James needs no introduction. Now Memories Of is the joining of Etta and Kaz in a virtuoso partnership of Blues, soul and jazz. The emotions are pure Etta, the authority, empathy and delivery are one-hundred per cent, Kaz. The Northern Irish songbird who has escaped her haunted cage to fly free energised by the music.
Opening with Something’s Got A Hold On Me, the voice drives through the airwaves a holler with something to say as Wayne’s drums pick up her beat and the musicians clamber to join the party. We are ready to go on an emotion driven musical roller-coaster of a ride as Kaz shapes the notes and makes very word count. What a start we are up-beat, smiling and foot-tapping impatient for the next track whilst not wanting this one to end. Kaz understands the guts of a piece of music, stepping back for a lead break of horns that gives her vocals an extra sting in the tail when they return.
A more conventional intro, for Miss Pitiful, with a personal closeness as Kaz wields the sexy tone of her voice and delivery. With keys and horns pitching in perfectly the timeless soul at the heart of this Otis Redding number is captured.
Three tracks in and the groove cuts deeper with Losers Weepers the beat of Wayne’s drums and Kaz’s voice combine into an interesting and memorable harmony. Gritty, gutsy combined with a deep melancholy of regret capturing the twin desires of friendship and loving the same man. With Kaz’s well-known back-story. Security is a track that reflects her drive and an Etta James number that fits her like a glove. Sung with understanding by a woman who as survived without security and holds it close once found. Following with a exceptional re-working of Willie Dixon’s number Spoonful covered by many, given new verve and voice with Kaz and her musicians. Intoxicating, we all need a spoonful of this in these troubled times!
The craft of the musicianship throughout the album cannot be overstated, the horns are sublime, the riffs and licks from the guitar kick up a storm or gently caress and the keys had shape and structure that holds the sound together.
Tell Mama neatly moves the album on to Blind Girl with mournful horns bring deep soul to the number as they introduce a gentler thoughtful Kaz as she reflects the lyrics that move the listener every time. Loving this version.
Expect the unexpected and this is epitomised on a stunning sleazy version of St Louis Blues, this brings you to a stop compelled to stand open mouth as the majesty of her voice curls seductively as every word is caressed. Wow! Follow that…
She does with ease, I Just Wanna Make Love To You… she caresses the microphone and makes this song up close, personal and the grit in melody as horns and keys fuse as a back drop to Kaz who takes the lead and is centre stage every time.
Closing out the album full of memories to savour again and again is At Last with a full intro from strings this is luscious blues. Then her unforgettable voice that leaves you tingle, re-energised and emotionally drained what a journey we have been on thank you for the Memories Kaz Hawkins.
Kaz has surrounded herself with session musicians who have created the sound that drapes around her vocals, so the words shape the songs and the vocals deliver the emotional impact on every track. Songs that are a discography of classics by Etta James, Otis Reading, Steve Cropper, Willie Dixon and WC Handy.
The production by Wayne Proctor is stunning, the heat and energy of the live show captured in a studio setting. You can fill the synergy created when Wayne and Kaz worked together, no gimmicks in the re-working of true classics. Never a reproduction of Kaz’s live shows dedicated to Etta James this album is researched and as fresh as a daisy, sharp and juicy. Rather than stepping down the well-trodden path of re-setting I’d Rather Go Blind, they found a different version from the lady herself ‘Blind Girl’. We have an album that stands alone and compliments the show.
Memories Of celebrates all our memories, the tears, pain and laughter as we step forward stronger. Ten covers, known and loved are re-interpreted with the velvet glove of confidence and dexterity of performer who understands Etta James.
Bluesdoodles rating: A truly Wonderful collection of blues classics. Yes you do need another version when Kaz Hawkins sings them
1. Something’s Got a Hold On Me
2. Miss Pitiful
3. Losers Weepers
6. Tell Mama
7. Blind Girl
8. St Louis Blues
9. I Just Wanna Make Love To You
10. At Last
Kaz Hawkins; Vocals
Stef Paglia – Guitar
Sam Yorke: Keyboards
Richard Beester & Brian Corbett – Horns
Wayne Proctor: Drums