Fresh from winning dual honors two weeks ago as the Blues Music Award's Entertainer of the Year and Best Contemporary Female Blues Artist (her third in that category), Detroit native Janiva Magness arrives back in town. She has a magnificent voice that's sinewy, sassy, and sufficiently versatile to probe into the gritty depths of the blues, wax soulfully, belt out funk and R&B, and slither through the swampy recesses of the Delta. After a series of impressive albums on minor blues labels, Magness broke out big time last summer with the release of What Love Will Do (Alligator), which backs up her swaggering howl and soulful workouts with a brash horn section and vocal chorus. Always intent on finding each song's emotional heart, Magness covers an array of not so obvious gems from the likes of Little Milton, Al Green, Bill Withers, Ike Turner, and even Annie Lennox, whose down and dirty "Bitter Pill" is slathered in Memphis-barbecued soul with a great, snarling turn on baritone sax by Magness's husband, Jeff Turmes. This is something of a homecoming for Magness, who after a brutal childhood (including teenaged pregnancy and both parents' suicides) started to put her life and career together by playing with Twin Cities R&B bands in the 1970s. Opening will be Cool Disposition, a local five-piece Chicago-styled blues outfit with a lineage stretching to Muddy Waters. Their latest solid collection, Jumping in the Mudd, was released earlier this year.
Fri., May 22, 7 p.m., 2009