||Hello kiddies, this is your far out, Far East jazz critic
Wing Fat here. I am delighted that "Big Mama" Sue Kroninger asked me to
write the liner notes for this, her latest CD. I am sure you will be
Here we have Mama Sue serving up her usual, unusual mix of
music and mayhem. Flanked by robust and talented sidemen, Sue pounds the
musical pavement with an eclectic selection of tunes ranging from the
serious to the nefarious.
If you are a long-time fan and/or follower of Mama Sue you are no doubt
familiar with Chris "Mr. Excitement" Calabrese. As Sue's pianist, arranger,
composer, and chauffeur, Chris has been a staple in the various incarnations
of the Big Mama Sue Jazz Band for many years. You may not, however, be
familiar with Carlos Donaho, a recent but now permanent addition to Sue's
band. Hailing from Las Vegas, Carlos delivers lightning-fast banjo plinking
and a voice with such incredible depth and power it has to be heard to be
I dove into this delicious CD faster than a swimming pool filled with Egg
Foo Yung. Join me, won't you, as I explore the musical dish that is Big Mama
Sue. And Chris. And Carlos.
I've Got My Fingers Crossed A great old standard made popular by
Fats Waller, this tune shows off the Trio at its swingin' best. But hold
on—what is that sound? It's Mr. Excitement playing soprano saxophone! His
critics said it couldn't be done, but I say: LUSCIOUS!
I Always Get Lucky With You Gary Church, multi-talented musician and
friend to Sue and the boys, wrote this tune which holds the distinction of
being the 390th top country song of all time. It is also quite possibly the
first piece of country music to have a diminished chord.
Nagasaki This traditional jazz standard offers the thrilling sound of
Mr. Excitement expunging the air from his lungs at break-neck speed.
Included are the rarely-heard verse, and the even less-rarely-heard second
verse and chorus. If you can understand the lyrics, keep in mind this tune
was written in 1927.
Big Butter & Egg Man Mama Sue and Carlos go head-to-head in this
Dixieland favorite. I just have one question: What the heck is "big butter"?
A Kiss to Build a Dream On Chris's solo piano version of a tune most
often associated with Louis Armstrong.
The Boys in the Back Room Originally sung by Marlene Dietrich in the
movie, "Destry Rides Again," Mama Sue's delivery explodes with
understatement. Here we have clear evidence as to why she is San Francisco's
Barbary Coast Queen.
Old Man River The amazing Carlos Donaho at his powerful best. If you
love music, you will love this. If you are a seismologist you might not be
The Princess Poo-Poo-ly Has Plenty Papaya Aloha! It's music from the
Islands! Doug McClellan, Santa Cruz's resident poet laureate and besotted
impresario, personally recommended this tune to Mama Sue as something
befitting her style and personality. All I have to say is, that man's a
Besame Mucho Mama Sue is not afraid to explore her Latin roots.
Through her exploration she discovered she really has no Latin roots,
although one would never know it listening to her authentically-enunciated
version of this standard.
The Tennessee Waltz The symbiotic voices of Sue and Carlos perfectly
render the multiple layers of this country AND western classic. It's like
two for the price of one.
Lulu's Back in Town Another Fats Waller vehicle, the group harmonizes
this tune in vocal trio. Music scholars will notice the exquisite flatted
5th on the end.
Don't Take Your Love From Me Ah, Carlos. A beautiful example of the
depth of Carlo's vocal prowess. Mr. Excitement's tinkling is not bad either.
Wild Cherries Rag Before he was Mr. Excitement, Chris was Mr. Ragtime
(that was actually between when he was Mr. Fix-It and Mr. July). Here he
shows us why in this hip rag from 1907.
Is It True What They Say About Dixie? Carlos Donaho asks the musical
question: Avalon? ... Joke! Joke! I kidding! I crack up myself!
Squeeze Me Ah, Mama Sue. She takes her sweet, sultry voice, adds an
"edge" courtesy of Fats Waller, and delivers this Waller standard as only
she can. It makes my heart go pitty patty plop.
Sukiyaki Original titled "Ue o Muite Aruko" and released in the USA
in 1963, it is the only Japanese song to attain the #1 spot on the American
pop charts. Mama Sue is a woman of many tongues and she proves it here,
singing this song in its original Japanese. A lighthearted, delightful romp
about the heartbreak and suffering of lost love.
Just a Closer Walk With Thee Dixieland greats from Louis Armstrong to
Pete Fountain have used this traditional spiritual as a vehicle for their
improvisations. Carlos takes it and makes it his own.
Whispering I do believe what we have here is the new definitive
version of this 1920's chestnut. Festive, taught, magnificent, with a
surprise ending that will leave you breathless.
Whew, it's all over way too soon. Love to you all, and remember to eat
spicy food once in a while.