Live At Maureen's Jazz Cellar
Review by Willard Manus

The combination of spirited singer and sympatico musicians is a formidable one on LIVE AT MAUREEN’S JAZZ CELLAR, the new cd released by the Tania Grubbs Quintet.

Grubbs makes an annual pilgrimage from Pittsburgh to Maureen’s Jazz Cellar in Nyack, NY, where, as she says, “magical things happen in that space” every time she performs, backed by David Budway (piano), Jeff Grubbs (bass), James Johnson III (drums) and Ron Affif (guitar). It’s her way of paying tribute to her “never-forgotten sister in song,” Maureen Budway, after whom the club was named by her brother David Budway and sister-in-law Brianne Higgins.

Grubbs shows her prowess on twelve tunes, one of which is an original, a rendering of the Emily Dickinson poem, “Hope Is the Thing With Feathers.” Her love of literary lyrics also finds expression in two other ballads, “The Peacocks (A Timeless Place”) by Jimmy Rowles, and “I Remember” by Stephen Sondheim. Don’t think, though, that she can’t handle uptempo, hard-rocking things. She proves that on “Ornithology” and “Don’t Take Your Love From Me,” when she cuts loose and shows her fiery and raucous side, sometimes scatting, other times making like a blues shouter.

With her extraordinary range, her deep, soaring voice and feisty personality, Tania Grubb is a captivating jazz singer.