Jo Jo Murray | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Jo Jo Murray 

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Singer-guitarist Jo Jo Murray, a mainstay on the south-side circuit for the better part of 30 years, is known for delivering extended medleys of other people's hits with uncanny mimicry. But he may finally be developing a voice of his own. On his most recent CD, Do You Remember, a self-produced project that has yet to attract a label or a distributor, he revives the venerable R & B tradition of the male singer who conveys passion and vulnerability by affecting a high-pitched, unabashedly feminine vocal softness. The plaintive "I Can't Get Over You" finds him mingling the nasal mewl of Esther Phillips with the emotive clarity of the late Ted Taylor. His textured croon on "Baby That Hurt" takes the gender-bending even farther; singing about "cryin' my eyes out, waitin' by the telephone," Murray sounds like Nancy Wilson singing through a bad hangover. "Can't Stop Loving You," buoyed by a slinky sax break from coproducer Jim Sims, is a jaunty light-funk outing; Murray tightens his timbre into a lust-constricted gurgle on the higher passages without breaking the abiding mood of tenderness. He's less effective on the 12-bar blues: "You Need Help" borders on camp when Murray imitates his woman telling him off, and "Little Red Rooster," slavishly modeled on Sam Cooke's 1963 hit recording, is a lapse back into his human-jukebox routine. Artie "Blues Boy" White headlines; also on the bill are soul veteran Ruby Andrews, Nellie Travis, Howard Scott, Miss Jessie, and others. Saturday, August 30, 8 PM, Mr. G's Supper Club, 1547 W. 87th; 773-445-2020.

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