Review of Three Maria Muldaur CDs
"30 Years of Maria Muldaur" - Shout Factory
"I'm a Woman" - Shout Factory
"Love Wants to Dance" - Telarc

by Bob Putignano
Goldmine Magazine June 10 2005

Has it really been 30 years since “Midnight at the Oasis” became a smash hit? Additionally, Maria tells me that there have been 30 albums since then! “30 Years of Maria Muldaur, I’m a Woman” is a very well done compilation chronicling Maria’s rich contributions to the recording industry. Maria actually chose all the tracks included, thus making this package a very personal statement.

Appropriately the CD’s first track is the title track, featuring the harp of the late greats Paul Butterfield, James Booker, and John Kahn, plus the still very alive and active Dr. John. “Midnight at the Oasis” always impressed me from the first time I heard it with its catchy vocals and gorgeous guitar work from Amos Garrett, and still feels as fresh today as the first time I heard it.

Hoagy Carmichael’s “Rockin’ Chair” features Benny Carter’s All-Star Big Band, and the piano and vocals of this tunes author, neat. Benny Carter’s Big Band get to do what they did best and that is swinging, throughout “It Ain’t the Meat (It’s the Motion). J.J. Cale’s “Cajun Moon” is so softly funky, with sexy vocals from Muldaur, and offers haunting sax accompaniment from Charles Neville. Marty Grebb’s “Best of Me” is a neat duet with Dr. John. It should be noted that, Maria’s and Mac’s collaboration lasted several years on the road thereafter. Charles Brown duet’s with Maria on “Gee Baby, Ain’t I Good to You”. Also of note, Brown vocals were recorded at a convalescent home where Brown was recovering from an illness, which unfortunately turned out to be the final recording by Charles.

“Get Up, Get Ready” is one of my favorite tracks, with the Chambers Brothers adding that gospel effect which worked so well during Maria’s gospel period. How about Mavis Staples, Tracy Nelson, Anne Peebles, Bonnie Raitt, Jon Cleary, and a hand full of Neville’s all together on “Somebody Was Watching Over Me”, talk about going to church, Amen brothers and sisters!

Lets fast forward to August of 2004, as Maria’ latest CD has just been released “Love Wants to Dance” on Telarc records. Throughout the years as evidenced on the “30 Years of Maria Muldaur” CD, Maria always evolved and kept to reinventing herself, and after several decades within the business this concept continues.

Maria’s 2003 Telarc CD on Peggy Lee signaled a new chapter in her career, and this latest recording is another extension of the jazzier side of Muldaur. Tracks included are covers of Benny Goodman’s “If Dreams Come True”, Blossom Dearies “Isn’t That the Thing to do?” Plus three covers authored by Brenda Burns, all of which are certainly indicative of this new trend that works very well for Maria’s career, as does the classic “I Got a Right to Sing the Blues” by Harold Arlen.

But Muldaur also attends to her earlier roots and good friends, with covers (albeit jazzy) of Bob Dylan’s “Moonlight”, and Taj Mahal’s “Baby You’re my Destiny”.

Throughout this “modern day Maria” recording the instrumentation is top notch. Check out Charles Brown’s ex guitarist/music director Danny Caron whose playing is exquisite on each track here.

For a great retrospective on Maria Muldaur, I highly recommend the Shout Factory release “30 Years of Maria Muldaur, I’m a Woman”. For those who want to find out and enjoy what this ever evolving diva of blues, folk, jazz, swamp, and swing is up to today, check out 2004 edition of Maria “Love Wants to Dance” on Telarc records.

Happy listening,

Bob Putignano
Radio Host WFDU’s “Sounds of Blue”
President of the NY Blues and Jazz Society