Elise Roth • The Garbled American Songbook, Vol. 1

I have a bit of an infatuation with Martha Raye. Born in 1916, “The Big Mouth” was a vaudeville child star before appearing in the 1934 Hollywood short A Nite in the Nite Club. She was soon snapped up by Paramount and starred opposite Bing Crosby in Rhythm on the Range, the first of 28 silver screen appearances. Raye was a quadruple threat—actress, dancer, singer, and comedienne—and she was gorgeous, to boot. She worked with Al Jolson, Abbott and Costello, Charlie Chaplin, W. C. Fields, and Bob Hope, and had her own TV show from 1954 to 1956. Raye was a rare talent indeed—but charming chanteuse Elise Roth is perhaps three-fourths of the way there. Born in London, English-American Roth has carved a niche for herself on the contemporary US swing scene as a fastidiously vintage-styled vocalist and dancer, with a sharp wit and a refreshing sense of humor. It seems that she takes what she does very seriously indeed, while simultaneously not taking herself too seriously. Classically trained, she began singing operas and cantatas but has finally found jazz—something for which to be very grateful. Released last summer, Elise Roth’s 2nd Swing EP is in fact her third record, performed with her regular live band the Harvard Squares. With Roth now back in the UK and travel out of the question, it was a remote project compiled from sessions in London, New York, and Massachusetts, b
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Dave Doyle is a swing dancer, dance teacher, and journalist based in Gloucestershire, England. Write him at [email protected]. Find him on Twitter @DaveDoyleComms.

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