Esteemed GRAMMY®-nominated Vocalist Catherine Russell and Celebrated Pianist Sean Mason Join Forces on a Modern Classic: My Ideal is set to be released on August 23, 2024 via Dot Time Records

Dot Time Records is thrilled to announce the August 23, 2024 release of My Ideal, a breathtaking new album from acclaimed GRAMMY®-nominated vocalist Catherine Russell and prodigious pianist Sean Mason. This modern classic marks a significant milestone in both artists’ careers, capturing a powerful and intimate musical dialogue. My Ideal is a very special project even in the very rarified strata where Catherine works; this is not only her first complete set of voice-and-piano duets, but her partner on this project is a remarkable piano prodigy whose technical skill is only rivaled by his soulfulness. 

Since her debut solo album in 2006, Catherine Russell has captivated audiences with her rich, soulful voice and exceptional interpretative skills. Her eight previous solo albums have garnered critical acclaim, with Send For Me (2022) marking her first collaboration with Sean Mason. My Ideal elevates their partnership to new heights, featuring a complete set of voice-and-piano duets that hark back to classic jazz traditions. Sean Mason, a remarkable talent, 25 years old at the time of this recording, complements Russell’s vocal artistry with his sophisticated and nuanced piano playing. Despite his youth, Mason’s deep understanding of jazz’s history and techniques allows him to support and enhance Russell’s performances brilliantly.

Catherine Russell and Sean Mason share a profound connection that transcends their impressive individual talents. Both masters of jazz, their repertoires span the vast landscape of African-American and American popular music, from the blues and R&B to the Great American Songbook, Broadway, Hollywood, and Tin Pan Alley. This collaboration represents a unique convergence of experience and youthful virtuosity, offering a fresh yet timeless sound.

“Singing with the great pianist Sean Mason allows for the freedom to have fun and be in the moment. We understand each other,” says Catherine Russell. This synergy is palpable throughout My Ideal, as the duo effortlessly blend their talents to create a compelling musical experience. My Ideal tells the history of the jazz art form, from the early beginnings of the music with homages to James P. Johnson and Fats Waller, to the confluence of jazz and popular music with tributes to Ray Charles and Frank Sinatra. The adept duo imbue each piece with nuanced authenticity, sincerity and originality.

The album’s opening track, “Porter’s Love Song” is a witty and charming piece written by Andy Razaf and James P. Johnson for a musical revue celebrating African American achievement. Mason demonstrates his soulful stride proficiency, supporting Russell’s signature warm and declarative melodic refrains. “You Stayed Away Too Long” is a lively and rhythmically sharp interpretation of a Fats Waller classic. 

I Don’t Need No Doctor” and “Ain’t That Love” pay homage to Ray Charles, blending blues and gospel influences with a modern harmonic sensibility. “Grind My Coffee” is a playful take on a classic blues double entendre, originally accompanied by the legendary Fats Waller. A nod to the great Earl “Fatha” Hines and Nat King Cole, “You Can Depend On Me” features an intricate shift from a double tresillo rhythm to a stride feel and back again. “On the Sentimental Side” offers a melancholy rendition of a song written for Bing Crosby, highlighting Russell’s emotional depth. “The Best Things Happen While You’re Dancing” is an Irving Berlin classic, reimagined here as a graceful voice-and-piano dance. 

South To A Warmer Place” – A nuanced performance of a song popularized by Frank Sinatra, showcasing Russell’s stealth humor. Mason delivers an intoxicatingly emotive solo leading back into the tender melody. On “Waitin’ For The Train To Come In”, the train pulls out of the station with spirited musings from Mason. Russell’s arresting vocals make the listener hang on every last lyric, striking a tone of longing. This Peggy Lee classic closes out my ideal with a healthy dose of the blues.

My Ideal stands alongside legendary voice-and-piano duet albums such as Ella Fitzgerald’s Ella Sings Gershwin with Ellis Larkins, Tony Bennett’s collaborations with Bill Evans, and Nina Simone’s Nina Simone and Piano. This new album draws from this venerable tradition while carving its own path, showcasing Russell and Mason’s unique synergy and collective brilliance. 

The daughter of early jazz pioneer Luis Russell and the great trailblazing vocalist-guitarist-bassist Carline Ray, Catherine Russell’s musical roots run deep. She has appeared on over 200 albums, and since her debut album as a leader in 2006, she has steadily garnered tons of international acclaim. She has been nominated for two GRAMMY awards in the Jazz Vocal Album category, including in 2016 for Harlem On My Mind  and in 2019 for Alone Together. Her versatility and prowess has lead her to perform and record with a notably diverse range of artists including David Bowie, Cyndi Lauper, Paul Simon, Jackson Browne, Michael Feinstein, Levon Helm, Carrie Smith, Toshi Reagon, Rosanne Cash and notably Steely Dan, of which she is a current member. 

Rising star pianist Sean Mason has been featured on National Public Radio’s Jazz Night In America on its “Youngbloods” series, and played on the soundtrack for the Netflix production Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, and Tulsa Burning: The 1921 Race Massacre on The History Channel. His debut record of original compositions, The Southern Suite, was produced by Branford Marsalis and released last Fall on Blue Engine Records, the label of Jazz At Lincoln Center to wide acclaim. 

My Ideal will release digitally, as a CD, and as a vinyl LP on August 23, 2024 via Dot Time Records. 

Derived from liner notes by jazz scholar Will Friedwald.

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Track Listing:

  1. A Porter’s Love Song (4:58)
  2. I Don’t Need No Doctor (3:02)
  3. My Ideal (4:40)
  4. You Stayed Away Too Long (3:18)
  5. On The Sentimental Side (3:12)
  6. Ain’t That Love (4:26)
  7. The Best Things Happen While You’re Dancing (3:16)
  8. Ain’t Got Nobody to Grind My Coffee (3:38)
  9. You Can Depend On Me (3:14)
  10. South To A Warmer Place (5:44)
  11. Waitin’ For The Train To Come In (3:49)

 

Catherine Russell Tour Dates:

June 27: Syracuse Jazz Festival – 6:45pm, Syracuse, NY 

June 29: Pasadena Symphony And Pops – 7:30pm, Arcadia, CA

July 20: Singers and the Song – 7:30pm, New York, NY

July 28: The Meadow at Trapp Family Lodge – 7:00pm, Stowe, VT

August 6: The Otesaga Resort Hotel – 7:00pm, Cooperstown, NY

September 3-5: Birdland – 7:00pm & 9:30pm, New York, NY

September 6-7: Birdland – 8:30pm & 10:30pm, New York, NY

September 15: SFJAZZ Center – 3:00pm, San Francisco, CA

September 30: Ronnie Scott’s – 5:30pm, London, United Kingdom

October 1: Casino Lisboa – 9:00pm, Lisboa, Portugal

October 19: Epworth United Methodist Church – 2:30pm, DE

November 22: NJPAC – 7:30pm, Newark, NJ

 

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