|Alex Pangman & Her Alley Cats bring back the happy 2/4 beat of the 20s and 30s, the simple songs and polyphonic harmonies of Dixieland and Radio Swing jazz bands of Paul Whiteman, Red Norvo, Victor Young, and their girl singers, Lee Wiley and Mildred Bailey. Im talking about Let Yourself Go, by Irving Berlin, from the 1939 Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire movie, Follow the Fleet; and that other danceable positive message tuneSing you Sinners, from the 1930 Nancy Carroll musical movie Honey. Alex and the Cats do Mantovanis 1937 rendition of Serenade in the Night which aids your escape to romance under the starry skies of imaginary Latin countries, or, if you prefer to imagine yourself meeting a new lover One Night in Monte Carlo, well its there too.
The songstresses of yesteryear also had the blues, as in Bessie Smiths After Youve Gone, Mama's Gone, Good-bye, first recorded by Piron's New Orleans Orchestra in 1924, They Say, previously recorded by Alex herself (with Let Yourself Go) in 1999 for Sensation Records as part of her homage to vocalists of the past such as Connie Boswell, Ethel Waters, Ruth Etting, Valaida Snow, Annette Hanshaw, Maxine Sullivan and Lee Wiley.
Ms. Pangman has collected many of their performances on original 78s, has studied their phrasings, and led the resetting of their tunes in arrangements that swing in their own right while capturing the essence of the originals. Her Alleycats get two instrumental solos, which adds to the generous, rich atmosphere of the CD. Ms. Pangmans voicings are full, outfront and human. Every time I give Live in Montréal a spin, it cheers me up.