New Blues and Soul News – 11/28/2017

New Blues and Soul News – 11/28/2017

New Blues Adds:

Samantha Fish – Belle Of The West (Ruf): Singer/songwriter/guitarist Samantha Fish offers her second release of the year and her writing and performances are even stronger than on her preceding release. Eight of the eleven songs are her original compositions and her singing is even more self-assured than ever. She has a terrific backing group including Luther Dickinson (guitar/mandolin), Lightnin’ Malcolm (guitar, harmonica, vocals), Jimbo Mathus (Fender Rhodes, harmonica, vocals), Amy LaVere (bass, vocals), Little Mae (violin, vocals), Tikyra Jackson 9drums, vocals), Sharde Thomas (fife, drums, vocals) and Trina Raimey (drums). This release is firmly rooted in the north Mississippi Hills, but the main flavor comes from Fish. It’s down-home, gritty, blues and folk. Everybody’s right on the dime all of the time! A certified Professor Bebop “Wax Devoid Of Cracks”! Click here to listen to samples of the songs on this disc.   

Mama SpanX – State Of Groove (Self-produced): Nikki Armstrong aka Mama SpanX (also the band name) is a veteran soul / funk singer and composer. She’s been performing for several years in different capacities until she recently decided fronting a band would suit her best. Her band, The Spankers, includes Steve Johnson (guitar), Harlan Spector (B-3, piano, moog), Julie Sax (alto & bari sax, flute, backing vocals), Steve Sadd (tenor, soprano sax), David Abercrombie  (bass) and “Uncle” Ben Beckley (drums, piano, backing vocals). They’re a solid ensemble and create a great background for Armstrong. Most of the  songs ore originals or new arrangements of a few older songs. They keep a contagious background funkiness that supports and suits Mama just fine. Really nice soulful funk that will keep you bumpin’ in your seat or stomping the floor with your big flat feet. It is party time with this group! Click here to listen to samples of the songs on this disc.   

Popa Chubby – Two Dogs (Self-produced): Papa Chubby returns with a new set of originals of his pop blues. His guitar leads the way and he also plays drums and bass on several cuts. Other players backing him up are Sam “Freightrain” Bryant (drums), Andy Paladino (bass), Dave Keyes (keys), Tipitina Horowitz (trumpet), Andrew Garrison (tenor sax) and Andrea Beccaro (drums) with Francesco Beccaro (bass) on the live version of “Sympathy For The Devil”, one of two live tracks. The other is Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah”. Click here for an introduction to this disc by Popa Chubby himself.   

Ilya Portnov – Strong Brew (Self-produced): This is harmonica player Ilya Portnov’s first release as a leader. In 2014, he became the first diatonic harmonica player to earn a Masters degree at the New England Conservatory (Boston, MA). The variety of styles he plays on this disc certainly puts him in a unique position. He plays both diatonic and chromatic harmonicas sometimes reminding us of the work of Toots Thielemans, while also covering blues styles as well. Portnov composed seven of the nine songs on the disc and added covers of Gary Davis’ “Cincinnati Flow Rag” and Matvey Blanter and Alexey Fatyanov’s “In A Town Garden”. In addition to Portnov, other players are Kid Andersen (guitar, bass); Chris Burns (piano, keyboards); June Core (drums, percussion) with Ben Andrews (violin on two tracks); Rob Eye (guitar, percussion on one track each); and Robby Tamilov taking over bass on one song. Overall, the disc has a strong “world music” sensibility. At the same time, when Portnov and Andersen go for the electric blues, they’re a match for anyone around. Click here to listen to samples of the songs on this disc.  

New Soul Add:

Aretha Franklin – A Brand New Me (Atlantic): Here’s the rap on this new release: “Nick Patrick and Don Reedman can’t lie. Part of the allure of producing A Brand New Me: Aretha Franklin With The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra… was a chance to play with the Queen of Soul’s original vocal recordings from the 1960s.” This set …pairs those vintage vocals with new orchestrations the British duo put together with the Royal Philharmonic at Abbey Road Studios, along with new backing vocals by Patti Austin.” ( The sound is certainly more luscious and could introduce a whole new generation to the classic voice and work of Aretha Franklin and that’s a wonderful thing. If you’re already a fan of the classic soul sides, despite their simpler settings you won’t find much here except that the songs sound as grand as they can be. Otherwise, grab the originals and discover once again the magic of Aretha merging soul and gospel. Click here and scroll down to listen to samples of the songs on this disc.   


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