New Blues News – 10/26/2015

New Blues News – 10/26/2015

Al Basile – B’s Expression (Sweetspot): Basile plays a mellow and in the groove cornet and sings on this disc. He played with Roomful of Blues early on and has gathered a few colleagues for this disc, which appears to be about number 10 or 11. The musicians include Duke Robillard (guitar), Mark Teireira (drums), Bruce Bears (keys), Brad Hallen (bass), Doug James (tenor) and Carl Querfurth (trombone).  Basile wrote all of the songs, which are conversational or observational in nature.  The band is tight and the sound, in support of Basile’s creaky vocals, is generally rather languid. Robillard breaks out with some hot guitar briefly in a couple of songs, but that’s it.  Click here to listen to a song from a year or so back, but note this performance is not on the above disc. 

Tommy Castro & The Painkillers – Method To My Madness (Alligator): The sound is mostly similar to Southern blues rock and Tommy Castro has been delivering it for several years. His guitar is solid and the band (Michael Emerson – keys, Randy McDonald – bass, and Bowen Brown – drums) is tight and gets right to business. Tommy is in very good voice.  The songs are mostly originals, with one joint composition with Joe Louis Walker and another with Rick Estrin and a nice version of “I’m Qualified” (originally recorded by Jimmy Hughes in ’62 at Fame) and BB King’s “Bad Luck”.  Lots of fine rockin’ here.  Click here to listen to an introduction to the disc by Tommy Castro.  No samples are available yet. 

The Claudettes – No Hotel (Yellow Dog): This is the expanded retention of the Claudettes, featuring Johnny Iguana pounding out raucous piano, Michael Caskey on drums and percussion and new member Yana who sings and also dances during live performances. Iguana and Caskey both have respectable reputations in the blues world (Iguana played with Junior Wells and L’il Ed), but this outing is far away from that style, with the possible exception that L’il Ed can get pretty raucous!  The piano / drums duo remind me of the hard core boogie woogie and stomp pianists of the 30’s and 40’s with less attention to melody and more thump and jump. Nigerian singer and dancer Yana has a good voice and sings mostly in French in a style that makes her contribution more sonic than story. Iguana basically acknowledges that this is a step away from the blues with which he is most often associated, but without apology says that we can’t just keep playing the old thing the old way, so he’s in the laboratory rather than the museum. Live performance is no doubt the best way to introduce this!  Click here for a sample.

Duke Robillard – The Acoustic Blues & Roots Of…. (Stony Plain): Old school music as defined by Duke Robillard with a little help from his friends. While there are a few Robillard originals and covers of Robbie Robertson’s “Evangeline” and Hank Williams’ “Let’s Turn Back the Years”, the majority of this disc features songs from Big Bill Broonzy, Jimmie Rodgers, WC Handy, etc. Duke and his guests all play acoustic instruments in the older style and even Duke’s voice reflects his the years gone by. Guests include vocalists Maria Muldaur, Sunny Crownover, and Mary Flower (who also plays guitar and lap slide); Marty Ballou and John Packer (bass), Matt McCabe and Jay McShann (piano); Mark Teixeira and Marty Richards (drums); Billy Novick (clarinet); Doug James (bari sax, harmonica); Dave Babcock (tenor sax); Jerry Portnoy (harmonica); Jon Ross (mandolin); and Russell Gusetti (concertina).  Click here to sample songs from this disc.

Zora Young & Little Mike & The Tornadoes – Friday Night (Elrob): Zora Young was often considered as the blues queen in waiting of the lean and mean Chicago style and is, indeed, well respected. Like every other blues chanteuse, she stood in the shadows of Koko Taylor.  But if you like that older style urban style (we’re NOT talking blues rock), you should find a lot to love from the 67-year old who has more than enough style of the blues mama style to make you smile.  Her backup is provided by Little Mike Markowitz & The Tornados, featuring Little Mike (harmonica, composer of 4 songs), Tony O Melio (guitar, composed 1 song), Brad Vickers (bass), Jim McKaba (keys), Robert Piazza (drums) and occasional horn support from Rick Johnson (sax) and Gary Smith (trumpet). The non-original songs came from Howlin’ Wolf, Little Walter and Otis and Lucille Spann and Bonnie Lee. Check this out and see if you don’t agree that listening to this disc can even make your grandmama get down right here in the middle of town!  I couldn’t locate any samples from this disc, but click here for a great performance by Young from about a decade ago. 


Professor Bebop


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