Talk to My Lady
With any luck, the reappearance of Talk To My Lady will find savored by a sizable audience. For sure, Gene Russell should be a name familiar to committed and more casual fans of jazz and r&b made in the 1970s. It would be great, too, if the reissue gave boosts to the careers of two still-active musicians whom Russell employed for the record date, Bay Area guitarist Calvin Keys and string bassist Henry Franklin, long an important player on the Los Angeles jazz scene. Talk to My Lady certainly does have its transcendent moments. There's Russell's bold transformation of the John Coltrane-identified "My Favorite Thing," where his Fender Rhodes gets matched in breakneck intensity by Franklin's standup bass and 20-year-old Leon "Ndugu" Chancler's drums. Playing acoustic piano, Russell sounds at ease with the funk of "Get Down" and, now plugged in, he personalizes Gamble & Huff's "Me and Mrs. Jones" and Stevie Wonder's "You Are the Sunshine of My Life" with soulful feeling.