Marcia Ball | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Marcia Ball 

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She works out of Texas these days, but the music of pianist Marcia Ball cooks with the flavor of her native southern Louisiana. Influenced by the gang of geniuses who forged modern-day New Orleans piano--Professor Longhair, Allen Toussaint, James Booker, and Dr. John, among others--she's as effective on steamy blues testifying ("The Power of Love") and boogie-woogie barnstormers, ("Mama's Cookin'") as she is on covers of half-forgotten R & B gems like Sugar Pie DeSanto's "Soulful Dress." Like her mentors, Ball has a joyfully told melodic sense propelled by a rhythmic imagination laced with classic New Orleans quirkiness and kept on track by the sheer power of her technique. Her voice has a raucous range and an ability to explore depths of passion that many other brassier vocalists don't approach. Ball used to be a country singer, and she's not afraid to incorporate into her work some of the aching vulnerability that informs the best C and W. But make no mistake: this is hard-partying good-time music in the grand tradition, purveyed by a first-rate musician who's just beginning to approach the pinnacle of her powers. Saturday, FitzGerald's, 6615 Roosevelt, Berwyn; 708-788-2118.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Mark A. Guerra.

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