Toni Lynn Washington - Reviews


"She resiliently highlights every accentuation in the lyrics, pauses for some molten single-note guitar soloing and concludes with a long whispering, murmuring, head-tossing vocal exploration of loneliness."

-Gary von Tersch
Big City Blues
August/September 2003 


"In a day when "diva" is as overworked as the delivery of singers who're called that is overwrought, TLW is a tower of tonal maturity, class, and grace. Fans of the human voice who respect those qualities will want this CD."

-Tim Schuller
Buddy (Texas)
August 2003 


Been So Long has been chosen as the August Surprise Hit in Blues Bytes.

"Toniís songs are not your predictable blues tunes. Rather, they are full of soulful romanticism. The disc prominently showcases her convicted and authoritarian vocals.

If you arenít a fan of music that exhibits vocal power, this disc may not hold your attention. The songs on this disc were performed and recorded as in the glory days of R&B. This is life-enhancing music as performed by those who live life to its fullest."

-Tim Holek
Blues Bytes
August, 2003 


"Toni Lynn Washington has earned her title of Boston's 'Queen of the Blues.' She does herself proud with another sterling effort, this time coproduced by Duke Robillard. He and Bruce Bears (Washington's pianist and music director) bring out enough soulful style to render comparisons to one of Washington's idols, Ruth Brown. The songs have a vintage flavor, including 'It's Love Baby (24 Hours a Day),' which Brown did, and Bessie Smith's Mississippi Delta-laced 'Back Water Blues.' Washington shows great range, moving from the piquant jazz of the Little Jimmy Scott-identified 'Angel Eyes' to the steamy boogie-woogie of 'It's Been a Long Time (Been So Long),' with Bears kicking it to life on the ivories. The dizzying range feels seamless, though, whether it's a sweet cover of 'Willow Weep for Me' (learned from a Nina Simone record) or the more modern swamp-rock of the Cate Brothers' 'Are You Happy Now?' or the funky rock of 'Shake Me,' penned for her by Jon Pousette-Dart, former leader of Boston's Pousette-Dart Band. The overall star, though, is Washington, whose style and grace are queenly, indeed."

-Steve Morse
Boston Globe
August 1, 2003 


"She's the Boston Blues Queen, with one minor hit, a huge regional rep., decades of struggle and disappointment and a serious rapport with the microphone to her credit. She has a husky, almost masculine voice, somewhat akin to that of Saffire's Ann Rabson. She's in control of the studio band, keeping things in a "bow tie blues" frame one might associate with Charles Brown rather submitting to the heavy swing Duke Robillard's influence and bandstand partners usually provide.

This is an album for couples, firelight and those seeking solace from romantic pain. It's far from the center of the thumping, party-oriented Chicago center of the blues bell curve, and will be an acquired taste for many middlebrow blues fans, yet it will be a taste easy to acquire, because it is a strong record in every way. On every level, it is about mastery. "
Willow Weep for Me" is particularly eye opening as a cut on the exact cusp of blues, jazz and R&B."

-Art Shuey
Southwest Blues
July, 2003 


"Classy musicians backing a classy vocalist...This elegant recording is more proof how timeless a good story told by the right singer is."

-Art Tipaldi
Boston Blues Society
July/August, 2003 


"With "Been So Long", her first with Canada's NorthernBlues outfit, she serves up a diverse tribute to her forebears backed by a knockout band that adds up to her best record to date...Toni Lynn Washington caresses each song with absolute conviction bringing out a depth and subtlety to these songs that few could match. On "Been So Long" all the elements fell in place to create some real magic."

-Jeff Harris
Bad Dog Blues
Summer, 2003 


Toni Lynn Washington is Boston's queen of blues. She sang in her youth with legends like Sam & Dave and Jackie Wilson. After taking a couple of decades off, Washington returned to performing in 1992 and started recording again in 1995. Been So Long is her fourth album and it packs the kind of serene power that only a real singer (like Etta James) can summon. The programmers over at KLAC's Fabulous 570-AM should slip this puppy into regular retro rotation. Pour yourself a martini and let yourself fall under Washington's night club spell with the back water blues of "Back Water Blues," the strutting "I Don't Want Nobody" and the choogling "Are You Happy Now?" "

-Tony Peyser
Santa Monica Mirror
July 2-8, 2003 


"Blues great Toni Lynn Washington gives us something a little different. Classic songs made famous by both male and female blues and jazz greats, gets her own style this time out. Complete with crack studio musicians and soulful production, Toni Lynn electrifies. Her deep voice shows a lady who has lived the blues. Toni Lynn eases into this CD and never gives up her groove. When Scott Aruda wails on trumpet on "I Don't Hurt Anymore", it makes you feel like you're in some blues joint on Chicago's south side. Producers Duke Robillard and Bruce Bears bring it all together. 4-stars."

-Jeff Hurst
Cambridge Times
June 13, 2003 


"If I had to sum up "Been So Long" (or, for that matter, Toni Lynn herself) with a single word, I think I'd choose 'classy.' This is a stellar outing and yet another jewel in the NorthernBlues canon.

"Recommended without reservation!"

-John Taylor
Blues on Stage
July, 2003 


On "Been So Long", the 66-year-old Boston-based singer brings her consistently smooth and rich chops to bear on 13 choice cuts."

-David Pulizzi
July, 2003 


"Been So Long has more than one surprise hidden in the tracks, there are several different sounds and styles on this CD, some old and new. Toni has a great voice with the one quality money canít buy, experience, she really knows her stuff. One big part of the fine sound on this CD is that Toni is backed by a super band, led by Duke Robillard, this band has the big sound you would expect with Duke leading it, he produced this CD too, the music is super, mix that sound with Toniís voice and you get some real smooth stuff."

-Chris Puyear
Spring, 2003 


"Been So Long is a thoroughly enjoyable CD. Certainly one of the best I've heard all year. Not just one of the best by a female vocalist but one of the best period."

-Putnay Thomas
Blues on Stage
June, 2003 


"There are 'stylists' out there who work like the dickens to try to get a little swing happening in their tuneage, and then there are people like the ageless diva Toni Lynn Washington who could sing the additives of a cereal box and make it sound like fine jazz.

The big news this time out is that, for once in her under-appreciated career, Washington has a guiding hand from a producer, guitarist Duke Robillard, who has the chops and connections to cover Washington's back on anything from the Mississippi-flavoured Bessie Smith tune '
Back Water Blues', to a Big Easy classic from recently departed genius Earl kind, 'Three Can Play The Game.'

The arrangements are classic, with big horns from Sax Gordon Beadle, Scott Aruda and Doug James right when they should be, but mostly and best, it's the magical Washington voice, powerful, soulful and swinging."

-Norman Provencher
Ottawa Citizen
May 31, 2003 


"Boston's 40-year veteran has three Tone Cool CD's to her credit and is now a NorthernBlues artist. She has been nominated five times as Soul Female Artist of the year at the Handys and just lost out to Etta James this year. This time she wanted to do an album of famous women's songs and men's songs from a woman's perspective. She also has Duke Robillard (and his horns) along as co-producer and guitarist. The combination is a winner. Starting off with Buddy & Ella Johnson's "I Don't Want Nobody (to Have My Love But You)" through Ruth Brown's "It's Love, Baby" to the Betty Everett-styled rocker "It's Been a Long Time" to Bessie Smith's "Back Water Blues" and onwards, it's a non-stop delight. Faye Adams' "Guilty (Witness to the Crime)" is another fine rocker and the Little Jimmy Scott tune "Angel Eyes" leads a jazzier trio of songs that includes Nina Simone's "Willow Weep For Me". The CD ends with a marvelous, funky updating of Ma Rainey's "Down in the Basement". Tremendous variety, vital singing and a brilliant effort all round!"

-John Valenteyn
June 2003 


"[Been So Long] a nicely organized blend of styles including soul, R&B, blues and jazz. Washington is equal to the challenge and renders some great stuff. I loved the "delta" tinged Shake Me where she is backed by Bears, Robillard and the very impressive Kevin Belz. An updated version of Bessie Smith's Back Water Blues is Toni Lynn's tribute to the Queen. Mainstream jazz is not forgotten. Washington offers her unique versions of Willow Weep For Me and the beautiful Angel Eyes. Both ballads are delivered in a slightly up-tempo style. The singer's jazz style is convincing and satisfying. Once again, Kevin Belz and Bruce Bears are given room to stretch out."

-Richard Bourcier
May, 2003