Other singers are less interested in channeling twenties counterparts. Loudon Wainwright III's mellow vocal on the traditional Irish folk ballad, "Carrickfergus" wouldn't be out of place on a contemporary folk album. Catherine Russell belts out "Crazy Blues" in traditional style, while the arrangement on Nellie McKay's "Wild Romantic Blues" uses syncopation and irony, which she captures in her vocal. Leon Redbone, in a radio flavored voice complete with a bar or two of whistling, delivers an understated "Sheik of Araby." Martha Wainwright adds a playful subtlety to the lyric of "All By Myself." Probably the most ballyhooed song on the album is Regina Spektor's "My Man," a song made famous first by Fanny Brice, and then by Barbara Streisand portraying Brice. Spektor's take on the song is perhaps the most contemporary of all in its conception, but what they have all managed to do is re-energize the material for the modern audience. That is no mean accomplishment.
Much of the credit has to go to the show's musical supervisor Randall Poster, who creator/producer Terence Winter credits with bringing Dixieland bandleader Giordano on board. Besides providing the accompaniment for most of these singers, Giordano and his band contribute some absolutely brilliant instrumental tracks. They take a virtually unknown piece like "Livery Stable Blues" and turn it into a neighing classic. More famous songs like "Margie" and "Darktown Strutters Ball" get complete makeovers; both are absolute gems. He and the Nighthawks even manage to transform themselves into a dance band for the Paul Whitman Orchestra hit "Japanese Sandman."
In an on-line interview, Giordano explains what the show's creators were after: "When they first came to me with this project, they said, 'You're in this band in Atlantic City. You play dance music, but you're hearing about this new jazz music.' It really was new then...[They said] we want you to cover some of this music with your energy." No question, they got what they wanted. More important, this is Volume 1, let's hope that Volume 2 is in the works, and that it's just as good.