*Music Review* Tipitina: Taking Care of Business

 

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This is an album released on a small Birmingham based label called Big Bear Music, so curious parties are recommended to go direct to the Big Bear Website for a copy.

Tipitina are a jazz/blues based outfit fronted on vocals and guitar by the delectable Debbie Jones with strong support by Justin Randall on Piano, whom I discovered through my various sojourns to the Upton Jazz Festival, Taking Care of Business is their second album and also reaps the benefits of being a live recording and those captures the atmosphere of a performance so often lost in studio.

The album opens up in fine form with a number entitled Hey Pocky Way with Justin tinkling the ivories in a very attention grabbing manner before Debbie joins in on vocals a few bars in, this is a good if a lightweight number but that is no matter as the passion and joy in the music more than makes up for this.

Things get more substantial territory as the album goes on with two songs written by Randy Newman, a composer who I believe is vastly underrated and whose material should be considered part of the great American Songbook, though sadly the numbers performed are not his classic satirical song on racism “Short People”. The first is a classic number called Louisiana 1927, a number about the great flood in 1927 and has subsequently become relevant again due to the devastation caused by hurricane Katrina, not to mention the flooding in this country at the start of this year. Debbie Jones belts out this heart breaking number with a real sense of feeling with the melancholy lyrics having a mournful tone about them perfectly encapsulated by her vocal timbres on the high notes. When performed at Upton 2012 (ironically a washed out festival) the audience were silenced by her performance and it would take someone with a heart of stone not to be moved by this performance. The second Newman number is a much more well known, but no less great, ballad called “Feels Like Home”. This is a much more subdued affair, almost sang in conspiratorial tones by Debbie; musically speaking this is a very interesting tune as it is very clearly written in a minor key but the lyrics are very positive which reflects perfectly the songs themes of getting oneself out of the doldrums. Another important thing to note on this track is how good a guitarist Debbie Jones is, a part of the bands performance which often is overlooked by people, myself included.

 

 
Another feature of the album is that there are a number of tracks which are medleys; no doubt a reflection of the album being a live recording. The first is entitled Fess Medley and contains three tracks which I believe tend to be associated which Dr. John: Mardi Gras in New Orleans, Big Chief and the track which inspired the band’s name, Tipitina. These no doubt are included as to be dance themes for the performance as they all ripe with funky riffs and rhythms. The second combines two tracks, Tico Tico and something from the modern day British songbook; You Know That I’m No Good, a number by Amy Winehouse who died far too young and left us hungry for so much more. The number has a good build up and Jones captures the spirit of Winehouse’s almost autobiographical lyrics, it is such a shame though that Jones only includes the second verse of the tune. The final medley is very much a fun one with the cheeky Mama, Don’t Allow showcasing each member of the band for a few bars and closing off with the ubiquitous When the Saints Go Marching In.

This is a fantastic album which captures the spirit of a live show in the way many live recordings don’t and the icing on the cherry has to be the tracks composed by Debbie and pianist Justin Randall themselves: the album’s title track, You Me and the Keys and You Are A Blessing.

Here’s hoping album number three comes along soon.

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