'Bathtub Gin' by Roberta Donnay & The Prohibition Mob Band
Rating: 4 stars
Award-winning vocalist and songwriter Roberta Donnay and her Prohibition Mob Band exist to revive the Jazz Age of America. On the heels of their beloved A Little Sugar release comes their second Motéma Music release, Bathtub Gin which mines 1920s gems but also takes the listener on a stroll into the 1930s. Donnay is a very seductive vocalist and along with her band, they swing hard during a program of authentic vintage jazz, blues and swing. Whether you’re a newbie to the Swing Era or a veteran of all that swings, you will enjoy Roberta Donnay’s four party-rousing shout-chorus originals that evoke and revive the open spirit that birthed jazz.
On Bathtub Gin, which she co-produced and co-arranged with Sam Bevan, Donnay imbues classic songs with a contemporary verve while also managing to capture the spirit of her musical predecessors and an emerging America. She pays tribute to the tradition of such jazz and blues singers as Bessie Smith, Ma Rainey, Sippie Wallace, Louis Armstrong, Ethel Waters, Billie Holiday and Josephine Baker. Her interpretation of such songs as “Why Don’t You Do Right” brings out her sassy side while “If You Want the Rainbow (You Must Have the Rain),” sums up Donnay’s artistic and life mantra.
“Wake Up and Live” is the answer to recovering from loss and is kicked off by a blazing trumpet call to order. “Just What the Doctor Ordered” is a beautiful duet that pairs Nicolas Bearde with Roberta Donnay. “When I Take My Sugar to Tea” evokes a hot New Orleans afternoon while “Shake Sugaree,” signals loss. It is followed by the original, “Throw Your Heart Over the Fence,” which pleads to let loose but by contrast, “(We’ve Got To) Put The Sun Back in the Sky” is playful.
Overall, the songs on Bathtub Gin are sure to take you back to an Era when jazz hit its stride in the Swing Era. Check out the California Jazz Foundation for information about jazz in the Swing Era. Recommended
THE EXAMINER REVIEW: Roberta Donnay & The Prohibition Mob Band perform vintage jazz on ‘Bathtub Gin’