New Jazz & Blues – August 8/2/2022
Peck Allmond Quartet – Live at Yoshi’s 1994 (East Lawn): “Homecomings are a time of celebration and reflection, and the July 5, 1994 Bay Area return of multi-instrumentalist Peck Allmond provided a good bit of both. Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, Peck is an alumni of the renowned Berkeley High School Jazz program directed by Phil Hardymon which includes luminaries such as Craig Handy, Peter Apfelbaum, Benny Green and Joshua Redman. His apprenticeship was served under the tutelage and mentorship of many of the premier jazz musicians residing in the Bay Area: Donald Bailey, Mark Levine and Eddie Marshall were a few who provided immeasurable on the gig training. Continued studies with other notable masters helped Peck develop into a musician who can shift from a hot swinging blues to a cozy ballad – on tenor saxophone and equally on trumpet. He lists his primary instruments as trumpet, saxophone and flute and he’s also in demand for valve trombone, clarinet and bass clarinet. In 1993, a year prior to this concert, Peck made the move to Brooklyn, New York and with his multiple skills established himself as a band leader, composer and highly sought-after sideman. https://planetdnonet.bandcamp.com/album/peck-allmond-quartet-live-at-yoshi-s-94-featuring-ed-kelly
Making his return to the Bay Area for this 1994 summer gig at Yoshi’s Nightspot in Oakland, Peck was accompanied by a few of his friends and mentors including bassist John Wiitala, drummer Bud Spangler and pianist Ed Kelly. The trio formed a rhythm section that felt like they shared plenty of time together, and although Wiitala and Spangler had teamed up to form a robust foundation in the Jessica Williams Trio a few years before, this performance marked their first and possibly only time with Kelly on piano.
Bud Spangler, an extremely spirited drummer, made his mark first in Detroit, Michigan as a radio personality and also as a music producer and musician for such labels as Strata Records and Tribe Records. After moving to the Bay Area Bud continued his radio career at KJAZ and later KCSM radio as an on air dj, and served as producer and engineer of the weekly show See’s Sunday Nights (later, Sunday Night Sweets) which spotlighted live performances from various performance spots around the Bay Area. He would also further his producing career on several notable and Grammy-nominated recordings featuring Shirley Horn, Denise Perrier, Mimi Fox, Ed Reed, Mary Stallings, Kitty Margolis and Cedar Walton amongst the many, and he would also co-lead the popular Tom Peron/Bud Spangler Quartet.
Heralded musician and educator Ed Kelly was a highly respected staple of the Bay Area music scene for years. An amazing and all-encompassing pianist/organist who would seamlessly flow from Blues, Gospel and spirituals to Bop, Swing and the many branches of the “Jazz” tree. With a career that included recording and/or performing with Pharoah Sanders, Bobby Hutcherson, John Handy and others, he could have easily achieved wider acclaim if he’d followed the path of the many who’d moved to New York. Instead, Mr. Kelly opted to stay in Oakland to educate and nurture the many musicians who’d come up after him.
As with every live performance, audience feedback does play a part in the experience and on this July night the audience sounds excited by and appreciative of each moment of music while celebrating the homecoming appearance of Peck Allmond. (Greg Bridges, KCSM) Click here to listen to the songs on this disc.
Cyrus Chestnut – My Father’s Hands (HighNote): “With the death of Cyrus Chestnut’s 85-year-old father, McDonald Chestnut, in 2021, the pianist lost not only his most passionate supporter but the man who first taught him to play. A self-taught pianist and organist, the elder Chestnut played in church (along with his wife, a choir director). He introduced the younger Chestnut to classical piano, gospel, and traditional spirituals, setting Cyrus on the path to eventually become one of the most accomplished jazz musicians of his generation. With 2022’s My Father’s Hands, Chestnut pays tribute to his dad, crafting a heartfelt album that touches upon jazz and pop standards, Latin rhythms, and originals. Joining him are two of his longtime associates and esteemed contemporaries, bassist Peter Washington and drummer Lewis Nash. Together, they play with an intuitive warmth and camaraderie. As the album is an homage to his father’s memory, one might expect it to be melancholy or sad. However, while there are certainly moments of tearful beauty, as on Chestnut’s lyrical rendition of the ballad “But Beautiful,” the record is never maudlin and finds him in a lively mood. This is especially true on the opening original “Nippon Soul Connection,” a blues swinger in the ’60s hard bop tradition. He also dives into Ray Bryant’s Latin number “Cubano Chant” and subtly subverts expectations with his bossa nova take on the classic “There Will Never Be Another You.” We also get a dusky and introspective reading of the Beatles’ “Yesterday.” His father’s essence is perhaps best captured on “I Must Tell Jesus,” a soulful hymn that Chestnut plays solo, infusing the measured gospel melody with warm chordal harmonies that shimmer with joy.” (Matt Collar) Click here to listen to cuts of short songs of each.
William Flynn – “Seaside” (OA2): “William Flynn: Seaside” Washington-based Origin Records seems to be a mecca for guitarists, as they’ve been releasing a plethora of six stringed outings. This latest is from the clean-toned William Flynn, who has a dash of Grant Green to his picking as he teams with Roger Wilder/p, Sam Copeland/b and Brian Steever/dr for a decalogue of originals. There are also a couple of gorgeous meetings with Emily Merrell, who gets cozy with Flynn on “30A” and is graceful on “Sea Song”. Flynn and the gents go modal on the hip “Follow The Leader” and a darkly hued “Sundog” , while Copeland and Wilder get some work time on the romantic “House of Savannah Street”. Steever’s cymbals guide the path on the soulful “January” and leads the deep dig on “Blue Ridge”. Vintage modern.” (https://www.jazzweekly.com/2022/06/william-flynn-seaside/) “Halfway through his fourth year teaching at Wichita State University, guitarist William Flynn found himself on the road through the plains of Kansas to Florida’s Gulf Coast for a month-long artist residency in the idyllic panhandle community of Seaside. The isolation of the ocean-front cottage, away from his life and job allowed for a barely imaginable creative focus, diving into a daily composing regimen and added time for reflection. With a band of Kansas City-based musicians – pianist Roger Wilder, bassist Sam Copeland, drummer Brian Steever, and a guest visit from vocalist Emily Merrell – ‘Seaside’ deals an inspired modern jazz sound, revealing melodies and harmonies captured during a particularly rich creative episode in Flynn’s career.” “Blue Ridge” received much praise across the trip! (https://www.jazzweekly.com/2022/06/william-flynn-seaside/) Click here to check out “Follow The Leader” and “January”.
Pasquale Grasso – “Be-Bop!” (Masterworks): “We are excited to announce the release of Pasquale Grasso’s new album, Be-Bop!, a brilliant new tribute to be-bop pioneers Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker – available now.
Be-Bop! kicks off in exhilarating fashion with Dizzy’s quintessential composition, “A Night in Tunisia,” originally composed in 1942 when he was a member of Benny Carter’s band and which marked the beginning of Gillespie’s unique blending of Afro-Cuban rhythms with American jazz. Grasso achieves an astonishing balance of technical wizardry and swing, sounding like two guitarists coming out of the gate on the challenging head on top of the syncopated Latin rhythm. And his fleet-fingered solo break at the 1:03 mark is in the breathtaking tradition of Charlie Parker’s famous alto sax break from his 1946 Dial recording of the tune. Pasquale’s stream of single notes that follows for the next two minutes in his solo is even more astounding, brimming with rare facility and abandon to match his fertile imagination. Roland also turns in an animated bowed bass solo here while drummer Keith Balla engages in some slick trades with the leader near the end of the piece. Finally, catch Grasso’s brief dazzling quote from one of Paganini’s Caprices (the extremely difficult No. 24 in A minor) in the coda. Backed by his working trio of bassist Ari Roland and drummer Keith Balla, the trio is in sync through super-up-tempo, challenging fare like “Groovin’ High,” “Cheryl,” “Ornithology,” “Be-bop” and “Shaw ‘Nuff.” “Dizzy’s tune ‘Shaw ‘Nuff’ reminds me of all the hours I would spend listening to Bird and Diz, growing up in my home town in Italy,” Grasso says. “It’s based on Gershwin’s ‘I Got Rhythm,’ possibly the most common set of chord changes we jazz musicians love to play over.” Listen here. The trio settles into a more relaxed vibe on Thelonious Monk’s gorgeous ballad “Ruby, My Dear” and on Parker’s “Quasimodo,” which features superb octave playing by Grasso and a brilliant bowed solo by Roland, and the trio takes its time on the lush “Lamento Della Campagnia,” based on the Billie Holiday torch song “Some Other Spring.” As the 33-year-old Grasso explained, “I had a tough time last year and Billie’s version of ‘Some Other Spring’ got me through some hard times, so I decided to record it.” Special guest vocalist Samara Joy, who has been collaborating with Pasquale since 2020, appears on one track, the jivey mid-tempo swinger “I’m in a Mess” (originally sung by Joe Carroll on Gillespie’s 1951 album, School Days). “She’s incredibly talented and I’m happy to perform with her night after night,” Grasso said. “We’re having a lot of fun together.” (https://www.sonymusicmasterworks.com/pasquale-grasso-debuts-new-album-be-bop/) Click here to listen to “Solitude” from this release.
Tom Harrell – Oak Tree (HighNote): “It’s rare to find anything touched by Tom Harrell that doesn’t satisfy and inspire. His first release in over a year finds him in a quartet setting, playing trumpet and flugelhorn with Ugonna Okegwo on bass, drummer Adam Cruz and the clever idea of having Luis Perdomo play not only piano, but doubling on the Fender Rhodes. The keyboards are a good choice, giving cool subdued colors to Harrell’s subtones on the flugelhorn on “Tribute” and supplying juice to the groove on “ Fivin’” and a soul function to the pulsating “Shadows”. Tufts keeps things snappy on the aptly reverse-titled “Evoorg” with Harrell’s trumpet in wondrous form, while his mallets lend to the grace of “Improv’, and his brushes assuaging the spacious “Robot Etude”. Harrell multi-tracks the horns in a brilliant and subtle way around Coates’ bass on “Archaeopteryx” and bops with the best on “Love Tide”. Another strong addition to an inspiring catalogue.” (https://www.jazzweekly.com/2022/07/never-disappointstom-harrell-oak-tree/)
Harrell has an amazing facility for “Senses and Sensibilities” (JazzTimes – https://jazztimes.com/archives/tom-harrell-senses-and-sensibilities/) which turn his performing into singular style. I would suggest reading available posts and then start listening as much as you can across the years. Here is one of from the new set (Oak Tree).
Mark Lipson – Springwells (Detroit Composers Collective): “This was a new challenge for me to be introduced to a band and its music that I have absolutely zero familiarity with, but I thank Kathy Parsons for sending it my way via the Dr. Jazz Operations. I found this album to be quite interesting and eclectic in its jazz explorations. This is not a diss, but to emphasize its liveliness and diversity. And as it is, these are seasoned musicians from the Detroit Composers Collective, Mark Lipson, producer, who also does nice percussions, with drummer Nate Winn. The notes by Jazz Times columnist Mark Stryker describe the crew as a “cross-section of…Detroit’s finest musicians.” Vincent Chandler is the featured trombonist who also composed three out of the six pieces, including the opening “Springwells.” Larry Fratengelo does an upright rhythmic support on percussion on several pieces; Rafael Statin on reeds; Cary Kocher on vibraphone; Jeff Pedraz on the upright bass; Gary Schunk on piano; Mark Lipson on percussion, and Nate Winn on drums. The first piece, “Springwells,” is an upbeat Latin Jazz cruise (a borrowed expression) with Lipson and Fratengelo on great percussion. I don’t get its title, but the piece sprang to life immediately — lively and joyous. “Copycat” had a big band feel with Larry Fratengelo kicking things up. While “I Remember Joe” opens with a multilayered kaleidoscope of sounds reminiscent of a Dixieland band, and transitions into straight-ahead jazz with muscular solos by the horns, vibraphone, and piano, and a strong backbeat – and then it ends!
When I first looked over the description that came with the album notes, what immediately caught my eye was its second number, “Leafar Village”. The notes made references to its musical kinship with Pharaoh Sanders’ “Karma” and John Coltrane’s “Om.” While the centerpiece of “Karma” is the hypnotic “The Creator Has a Master Plan,” for me Leafar Village was more mindful of Sanders’ “Harvest Time,” or even “Upper and Lower Egypt” from Sanders’ Tauhid. Goodness, and wow, did I enjoy it! Truth be told, “Leafar Village” was much, much too brief as a barely three-minute piece….” (https://mainlypiano.com/reviews/mark-lipson-songwells) Click here to listen to the songs on this release.
Meridian Odyssey – Earthshine (Origin): “Self-recorded in an airplane hangar in rural Alaska during a pandemic exile, 2021’s Second Wave delivered the story of a group of young musicians using exceptional circumstances to create personal & musical connection, and ultimately, a stirring documentation of time-well-spent. With this script in hand, Meridian Odyssey returned to Big Lake in August 2021, settling in for six days of intense rehearsals of nine new originals, with time off for sailing, flying and hiking together. With trumpeter Noah Halpern joining the core band of saxophonist Santosh Sharma, bassist Ben Feldman, pianist Dylan Hayes, guitarist Martin Budde, and drummer/producer/engineer Xavier Lecouturier, the group found a new power and focus in their sound, with the expanded front line and the growing conceptual openness the band had developed. Born from the perceivably “lost” years of ’20 & ’21, Earthshine will speak to the creative read and react of six musicians on the literal threshold of their careers. While a marvelous tale of its own, it portends to be but an entrance into a musical beyond.” (https://originarts.com/recordings/recording.php?TitleID=82850) …incredibly talented; their youthful exuberance shines through on urgent and passionate uptempo flights and intense, moody ballads alike…the band’s interplay – the musical conversation in each performance – is most striking to my ear.” (Abe Beeson, KNKX) Listen to two samples from this release.
Roberto Occhipinti – The Next Step (Modica Music): “Modica Music is delighted to announce the release of Roberto Occhipinti’s latest record The Next Step. Joining Occhipinti to explore a tightly synthesized collection of influences from his diverse career are two musicians with roots in the Toronto music scene – pianist Adrean Farrugia and two-time GRAMMY winning drummer Larnell Lewis. Bassist Occhipinti is an established presence on both the Canadian and International jazz scenes. A five-time Juno Award recipient, Occhipinti is in demand across an astounding range of contexts. The latter part of his career has seen Occhipinti recording with a number of Cuban musicians, on projects with Hilario Duran and Jane Bunnet in particular, but there are few formats Occhipinti hasn’t been involved in, from playing bass in Canada’s top-rate orchestras, to cutting-edge contemporary music, to Latin American performances, and work with top musicians from Africa and Asia. Performing credits span from John Cage and Terry Riley to Stevie Wonder, Tony Allen and Damon Albarn. The Next Step, Occhipinti’s sixth release as leader, looks to synthesize his diverse collection of musical interests via a classic jazz format. During the pandemic, Occhipinti was fortunate to keep recording (he owns a recording studio, and heads up Modica Music). That precious time was used to consolidate the projects he was involved in, and move into a new creative space of his own – the piano trio: “I decided I would concentrate my own efforts on doing a piano trio project, one my favorite musical combinations.” This is Occhipinti’s first trio project as leader, taking inspiration from a host of the jazz greats. “It’s always been a favorite form of mine, from the time I started playing bass after hearing Ray Brown in the Oscar Peterson Trio, then moving on to the classic Bill Evans trio with Scott LoFaro, and finally in my work with the Hilario Duran Trio. It’s an important contribution to the world of bass-led trios, to which Occhipinti adds his own individual colorings. “My other recording projects were for larger ensembles with winds and strings. For The Next Step, I would be the string section, using techniques I learned in my career playing classical and contemporary music.” The result is a thoughtful, thorough synthesis of elements from a diverse and successful career.” (https://bassmagazine.com/artists/bassist-roberto-occhipinti-releases-new-album-the-next-step) Click out “A Bend In The River”!
The Paxton / Spangler Septet – UGQOZI (EastLawn): “Taking its name from the Zulu word for ‘inspiration’ longtime friends and collaborators Tbone Paxtone and RJ Spangler present ‘’Ugqozi’.… Having dedicated decades to studying, performing and celebrating the joyous music of South Africa, the latest manifestation of their passion for the subcontinent is an uplifting collection of music by various well known South African musicians including jazz trumpeter Mongezi Feza, Blue Note pianist Nduduzo Makhathini, and Nigeria’s Fela Kuti.
The Detroit-based partners have been playing together since the 1970’s, forming their first creative outlet for exploring South Africa’s sound in 1980 with the multi-award winning ensemble ‘The Sun Messengers’ which established them as a cornerstone of the city’s vibrant scene. With their latest release, they reassemble their critically acclaimed septet for a collection of songs arranged by Jeff Cuny and guest saxophonist Salim Washington. Together, they give these popular songs refreshingly energetic new treatments through powerful horn solis, interactive musicianship and virtuosic jazz improvisation. With the seven piece ensemble at Ugqozi’s core extended by a number of featured guests, the band features a tight rhythm section well-versed in African influenced groove. The gospel-infused funkiness of pianist Damon Warmack, the propulsive bass playing of Kurt Krahnke and the inspiriting rhythms provided by drummer Sean Perlmutter and percussionist/bandleader RJ Spangler provide a strong and dynamic foundation for the ensemble’s powerful horn section. Whether interpreting a well-known melody or collectively building into a cacophony of spiritual sonic exploration, what stands out is the ensemble’s collective love for their craft.” (https://jazzfuel.com/project/paxton-spangler-ugqozi/) Click here to listen the songs on this release.
Planet D Nonet – Tribute to Buddy Jones / Live At The Scarab Club (EastLawn): “The odds these days of a large group of musicians recording 16 songs live in a club by 1940s pianist, singer, songwriter and big band leader Buddy Johnson, who played blues and ballads for dancing at the Savoy Ballroom and throughout the south, seems an unlikely prospect. Yet, you have here in your hand, the proof it did happen! One swinging afternoon in 2018 at Detroit’s Scarab Club, this show, led by drummer RJ Spangler, consisting of a group of ten of Detroit’s finest musicians plus two additional vocalists, manage to capture the spirit of this, one of a kind, important orchestra which has been nearly forgotten in the annals of American musical history.
Luckily you can hear in this recording, just how special the songs and arrangements are, presented here in a live club performance by folks who love the music. It’s rare to hear a which was originally recorded in the period between the early 1940s through the mid 1950s. Buddy Johnson was right in the center of the evolution of rock and roll from the beginning of rhythm and blues to the advent of this new form of black influenced music for young adults. Alan Freed helped popularize the new sound encouraging both black and white audiences to enjoy the shows and recordings.
On this live recording, Planet D Nonet play many of my favorite Buddy Johnson tunes. Right from the start of “South Main” the band treats the audience with that powerful Johnson sound. Doctor Jive Jives is another rolling powerhouse that moves the crowded club audience.
“Walk Em,” an early hit is here and “Walk the Chalk Line” another tune featuring the early signature Johnson “walking rhythm.” One of my favorites here is the great “Root Man Blues” sung powerfully by Leonard King abetted by a wailing alto solo by Justin Joswiak. The band chugs, swings and walks through the B.J. rhythm of flag wavers, blues ballads and rhythm tunes with great enthusiasm and feeling. Ballads like the hits “Since I Fell For You” and “I Wonder Where Our Love Has Gone” satisfy, and the great choice and breadth of tunes encapsulates the Buddy Johnson sound through it’s entire existence with classics like “Crazy Bout a Saxophone,” I’m Just Your Fool, It’s Obdacious and many more. Besides guest vocalist Camille Price, who handles Ella Johnson’s tunes in her own style, the band members do a spirited job of handling the rest of the vocals in the spirit they were written in. The horn section gives the proper punch to the arrangements and the soloists all shine on their instruments when featured.” (https://planetdnonet.bandcamp.com/album/planet-d-nonet-live-at-the-scarab-club-tribute-to-buddy-johnson) The band is based on Buddy Johnson’s from the 40’s and 50’s was a part of the shift, performing his own and style like “Walk ‘Em” and “Pretty Girl A Cadillac And Some Money” and s-m-o-o-t-h style! Click here over her “Fine Brown Frame”.
Rick Roe / Rob Bickley / Jesse Kramer – Lucid Dream (Unknown Records): “A lucid dream is a type of dream in which the dreamer becomes aware that they are dreaming while dreaming. During a lucid dream, the dreamer may gain some amount of control over the dream characters, narrative, or environment; however, this is not actually necessary for a dream to be described as lucid. Lucid dreaming has been studied and reported for many years. Prominent figures from ancient to modern times have been fascinated by lucid dreams and have sought ways to better understand their causes and purpose. Many different theories have emerged as a result of scientific research on the subject and have even been shown in pop culture. Further developments in psychological research have pointed to ways in which this form of dreaming may be utilized as a form of sleep therapy.” ??? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lucid_dream
Walt Weiskopf European Quartet – Diamonds and Other Jewels (AMM): “The quartet began its life under Weskopf’s leadership in 2017. Diamonds And Other Jewels is its sixth release, and—after mostly lying dormant as a group during the pandemic—they reconvene with a special expressive gusto, and a palpable sense of joy and adventure. “Black Diamond,” less ferocious than ‘Spartacus,” rolls with a smooth flow…. Two distinct types of jazz album have emerged in the difficult Covid pandemic times: the do-it-yourself statements, usually recorded in a home studio, often with internet sound swapping; and the pent-up energy, post-pandemic energy bursts, musicians getting together again after a year or more of minimal in-person collaboration. Diamonds And Other Jewels, from the Walt Weiskopf European Quartet, is of the latter type. Saxophonist Weiskopf, pianist Carl Winther, bassist Andreas Lang and drummer Anders Mogensen jump out of the speakers from the start with “Spatacus,” one of the seven dynamic originals offered up here.
The quartet began its life under Weskopf’s leadership in 2017. Diamonds And Other Jewels is its sixth release, and—after mostly lying dormant as a group during the pandemic—they reconvene with a special expressive gusto, and a palpable sense of joy and adventure.
“Black Diamond,” less ferocious than ‘Spartacus,” rolls with a smooth flow. Weiskopf’s solo is freewheeling and muscular, bringing sax man Joe Henderson to mind with an on-edge adventurousness. “Thad Nation” nods to trumpeter & bandleader Thad Jones, with a colorful and upbeat mood, and “Blond Diamond” broods beautifully. “My Old Flame,” the disc’s only non-original, was recorded in 1944 by Billie Holiday. It adds a welcome bit of soothing familiarity to the set. Overall the sound seems to owe a debt to saxophonist John Coltrane’s quartet with pianist McCoy Tyner, drummer Elvin Jones and bassist Jimmy Garrison, before things went into interstellar space—a fine era for Coltrane, and a fine one for the Walt Weiskopf European Quartet, too.” (https://www.allaboutjazz.com/diamonds-and-other-jewels-walt-weiskopf-european-quartet-amm-records) I regret I am unable to find a sample.
Sass Jordan – Bitches Blues (Stony Plain): “Kevin & The Blues Groovers put down a potent set of roots music on their new record Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed Blues. Set to be released on July 15th, 2022 by Basin Street Records, the album shines its spotlight on the talents of rapidly emerging vocal and piano star and former American Idol singer Kevin Gullage.
Gullage is a New Orleans native with a big-league voice, top-tier keyboard skills, and a hip, sophisticated style that he’s currently using to romance blues listeners all over the world. The record mixes Kevin’s original songs with some prime classics that get reworked in his own individual way. Although he’s only 23 years old, Gullage is already a seasoned performer and songwriter who sounds right at home in front of his all-pro band.Gullage was born to a musical family in New Orleans and displayed a great deal of talent at an early age. He began his career as a multi-instrumentalist but concentrated his musical focus on the piano eventually, an instrument that led him to study at the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts, The Louis Armstrong Jazz Camp, and later at Loyola University New Orleans. He has appeared with Grammy winners Blues Traveler at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival and has been in a number of films including The Last Laugh starring Chevy Chase and Burning Cane starring Wendell Pierce. His voice was even featured in the 2019 release of Disney’s Lady & The Tramp. He’s a legitimate musical phenomenon with a huge career in front of him who is capable of going head-to-head with the best in the business. Click here to and scroll down to listen to “Still Alive And Well”, the opening song.
Kevin & The Blues Groovers -“Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed Blues” gets going with the slinky funk of “Shakey Ground.” (Basin Street Records) The Blues Groovers distinguish themselves immediately and have the power to put the hot sauce on every note they play. The group is bassist Tony Gullage (Henry Butler, Dr. John), Hammond B3 player Brandon Adams (Kenny Neal), guitarist Carlton Ross (Glenn David Andrews), saxophonist Roderick Jackson (Kenny Neal), and drummer Mac Carter (Jon Cleary). Add Gullage’s mighty talents into the mix and you get a traffic-stopping band fronted by the best singer in town. His vocals cut through the song’s detailed arrangement and will absolutely pop out of your speakers. Right away, you know this is going to be good. “Movin’ On” is a beautifully soulful, jazz-blues ballad that tells a breakup story most people will relate to. Gullage states his case emphatically to the one who did him wrong, testifying with what could only be called righteous dissatisfaction. The tune features a slick, jazzy arrangement that adds a lot to its appeal and also contains some smoking guitar work from Chicago bluesman Ronnie Baker Brooks. Gullage is expressive and honestly emotional, delivering his original lyrics with pain and grace.
“Brooks pops in again on a rocking cover of Robert Johnson’s eternal “Sweet Home Chicago.” His overdriven tone is a perfect complement to Gullage’s punchy vocals and the horn-and-keyboard arrangement deployed by the band. What makes this track great is the way Kevin and everyone involved fill one of the most-performed songs in the blues with creativity and pure joy. If this one doesn’t make you smile and move, check your pulse. One of the record’s high points is Gullage’s take on the Amy Winehouse hit “Valerie.” It’s refreshing to hear a blues artist reach this far outside of the genre for a song and to make it work this well. It’s this kind of thinking that will truly keep the blues alive and relevant for future fans. Gullage shines on standards like “Ain’t Nobody’s Business if I Do” and “The Blues Is Alright” as well as on his own songs “So Called Friends of Mine” and “My Baby Gave Me The Blues (feat. Norman Sylvester).” He’s the best young singer you’ll hear this year, hands down. Listen to him once and you’ll be plugged into the future of the blues.” (https://www.rockandbluesmuse.com/2022/07/14/review-kevin-the-blues-groovers-something-old-something-new-something-borrowed-blues/) Click here to check off on “Shaky Ground” (Basin Street).
Mick Kolassa – I’m Just Getting Started! (Endless Blues): “With his 11th album Mick Kolassa declares, I’m Just Getting Started, and what a start. Roaming through his “Free Range Blues” Mick serves up several subgenres of blues. Working again with producer Jeff Jensen, they have assembled a cadre of seasoned musicians to bring you a selections of ear opening tunes. Opening with the title track, “I’m Just Getting Started”, Mick declares that he’s got moves ain’t nobody seen yet. In the second track Mick steps away from the classic blues and brings you a Soul blues tune called “What Can I Do?” that features some stellar lead guitar work by Dexter Allen, who also played bass on ten of the tracks on this album. Mick then asks listeners to dream “Bigger Dreams” and not give up on the ones they have. Mick and the band move in the direction of jazz with their cover of “Alibis and Lies”, a song about modern day Beale Street originally done by Chainsaw Dupont. Joining Mick on his version of the Taj Mahal classic “Leaving Truck” is Brandon Santini – this is the first song Mick and Brandon ever played together, many years ago, and they bring it with a new and funky groove. Brandon also joined Mick in presenting their take on the John Hiatt tune “Real Man”. The other cover on this album is a very bluesy/roots gospel take on the Pacific Gas and Electric rock classic “Are You Ready”. The love songs “That Kind of Man” and “Take Me Away” are presented with a mixture of Soul and blues rock, while “Trying Not to Let the Darkness In” is one of Mick’s classic minor key slow blues songs. Closing out this new album are “Hard Hearted Woman”, a tune about a lady who should be avoided, to say the least, and “How Much Can I Pay You?” a comical song about a patron at a club who gets more than a little carried away with her celebrating. All combined, these songs represent an expansion of the Free Range Blues Mick is noted for, and he’s just getting started!” (https://endlessblues.com/mick-kolassa-im-just-getting-started/) This is a great mix of classics and Kolassa’ own originals. This is Kolassa’s original, “I’m Just Getting Started”.
Matt Lomeo – When You Call (Matt Lomeo): “Billy Watts-guitar (Eric Burdon, Mojo Monkeys, Teresa James), Terry Wilson-bass/co-writer 5, 8, 11, 12 (Teresa James, Eric Burdon, Jimmy Reed, Backstreet Crawler), James Cruce-drums and percussion (J.J. Cale, Eric Clapton, John Hammond); Teresa James-piano and vocals; Kevin McKendree-B3 and wurlitzer; Darrell Leonard-horns and Paulie Cerra-tenor sax. Praise for WHEN YOU CALL:
“…there’s a healthy helping of hardcore blues, but the record is a diverse exploration of numerous genres, including country, Americana, classic Motown and R&B, Philly soul and even a taste of the torch singers of the great American songbook. Produced by Grammy-nominee Terry Wilson, “When You Call” boasts clever lyrics, catchy hooks, soulful vocals and tight improvisations. (Observer Dispatch) and “Matt Lomeo gives you soulful, traditional vocals and a stellar harp performance on “One More 1&1” (The Groove). Click here for the title song on this release.
Val McKnight – Ain’t Nothing Like A Country Boy (Ecko): “01: Val McKnight – Let’s Party;
02 Ain’t Nothing Like a Country Boy; 03. Shake Something (Southern Soul Slide); 04. Val McKnight – I’m in Love with My Husband and My Side Piece; 05. Val McKnight – Take It Easy;
06. Val McKnight – You Want Your Cake and Eat It Too; 07. Val McKnight – It’s Booty Shakin’ Time; 08. Val McKnight – Let’s Do Some Freaky Stuff; 09. Val McKnight – Take My Husband Back from Me; 10. Val McKnight – I’m a Do It All Woman; 11. Val McKnight – Can You Ride This Pony; 12. Val McKnight – Ain’t Nothing Like a Country Boy (Club Mix) Click here to listen to “Ain’t Nothing Like A Country Boy”.