Preservation Hall Jazz Band: Chiseling The Blues
In the bitter old blues song "Some Cold Rainy Day," the dumpee declares to the dumper: You will come back someday — when it's cold and rainy and you're old and sick and your stomach "hangs like an empty sack." Bertha "Chippie" Hill made the tune a hit in the 1920s, but now it's been reinvented as a 2010 stunner by the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, with vocals by folk-rock singer Cory Chisel.
Chisel's rendition is featured on a new recording with a very long name that explains its purpose, Preservation: An Album to Benefit Preservation Hall and the Preservation Hall Music Outreach Program. Many singers, young and old, perform with the famed New Orleans musicians. It's a gimmick, but the gimmick works.
The instrumentation here is traditional New Orleans jazz, cooked to perfection. In "Some Cold Rainy Day," a bluesy piano creates a gripping slow-drag framework. A tambourine rustles like a vengeful rattlesnake while a deep-throated tuba toots the pain of a busted heart. Now and then, a muted trumpet playfully improvises, as if it were the mocking voice of that runaway lover: "Betcha miss me!"
Set against this classic Crescent City accompaniment, Chisel's sweet, beat-up voice sounds achingly contemporary and more soulful than ever. Living up to his last name, he etches a portrait of a man who's fed up with the woman who walked out on him — while still holding out hope that she'll come crawling back someday.
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