New Blues & Soul News – 3/24/2015

New Blues News – 3/24/2015

New Blues Adds:

Robben Ford – Into The Sun (Provogue): Veteran guitarist Ford presents his latest offering of blues inflected songs, several with a country soul/blues funk that is as infectious as can be.  Ford’s smooth and inventive guitar work is supported by Brian Allen (b), Wes Little (d), and Jim Cox (keys) and includes guest spots from Kyle Swan (harp, vox and co-wrote 4 songs), Warren Haynes, Sonny Landreth, Keb’ Mo’ and Robert Randolph among a few others.  Highlights for me included the old-timer and stagey gospel union of Ford, Mo’, and Randolph (“Justified”), “High Heels And Throwing Things” (with Warren Haynes), and the funky “Stone Cold Heaven” (with Tyler Bryant – g).   Click here for a short clip of Ford improvising on a blues riff.

Ray Goren – Save My Soul (self-produced): 14-year old guitar phenom Goren steps away from the blues and soul base of “Generation Blues Experience” (see last week’s “New Blues News”) to show off his rock prowess.  He is supported by Jon Sosin (g, synths, vox, keys) who also co-wrote the songs. This EP is totally in the hard rock vein, so if that’s not your taste, pass right on by.  This young man is truly a gifted player and warrants keeping an ear open to his development.  Click here for an audio clip of the title song.

JeConte – Down By The Bayou (Red Parlor): Blues harpist, guitarist, singer JeConte is a bit of a mystery, but he is a solid player who seeks to blend and enhance the musical connections between West Africa (one of his groups is the Mali Blues, a melange of US and Malian players) and America.  On this new disc, JeConte partners with Anders Osborne – they co-wrote four of the nine songs on the disc – to synthesize the natural connections among the Malian traditions, the blues, zydeco, and the swamp.  In addition to JeConte and Osborne, the group includes Wall Ingram (d), Matty Cohen (g, vox), Chris Haugen (g, vox), Carl Dufrene (b), and Dre Michot (violin, accordion).  The soundscape shifts from deep electric to acoustic and from zydeco to a zydeco Malian blend to a foggy, electric swamp blues.  This strand of musical discovery and exploration is gaining momentum and is creating some exciting sounds.  Click here for a brief duet from Osborne and JeConte. Note: this music is not on the disc.

Greg Nagy – Stranded (Big O): Former long-term member of Michigan’s “Root Doctor”, Nagy (vox, g) struck out on his own about six years ago. He has a pleasant declarative singing style that matches his smooth blues style.  Though there is a rotating group of musicians backing Nagy up, the musical setting is a quartet of drums, bass, and keyboards with the lead guitar and the occasional addition of backing vocals. The songs center on love and most often the loss of love and search for renewal. Just like the title and notes explain, Nagy is attempting to recover from a broken marriage. He is determined but uncertain about his own strength in the face of his loss.  Click here for a sample performance from the disc. 

Breezy Rodio – So Close To It (Wind Chill): Guitarist/songwriter/vocalist Rodio releases his second blues disc.  He wrote or co-wrote eight of the fifteen songs on the disc and plays and sings on almost all of the tracks.  His main band includes Ariyo Sumito Ariyoshi (piano), Light Palone (b), Lorenzo Francocci (d), Chris Foreman (organ), and Bill Overton (sax), with Art Davis  or Doug Scharf playing trumpet on several tracks. Special guests include Billy Branch (harp), Quique Gomez (harp), Lurrie Bell (v, g), and Joe Barr and Carl Weathersby (vocals) on one track each.  At first glance this looks like a wonderful disc, but sadly I was disappointed.  Rodio seems to have good facility on the guitar, but the band struggles to make the changes when he does and that causes several songs to sound like practice outtakes. Branch plays well as does Bell, but neither comes up with an inspired solo.  Carl Weathersby does not play guitar, and while he does sing well, he is widely recognized as a guitar star. Rodio’s singing is, I believe, an acquired taste and truthfully one I don’t have.  Noted music historian/author Bill Dahl wrote the glowing liner notes.  You will have to decide for yourself.  Click here for a segment of a live performance. Note this is not a song from the disc.

New Soul Adds:

Swamp Dogg – The White Man Made Me Do It (S-D-E-G): Swamp Dogg returns after a 5-year hiatus and this one is like a blend of the past two outings: “Resurrection” (2007) was filled with social and political commentary and “Give ‘Em As Little As You Can…As Often As You Have To…or…A Tribute To Rock’n’Roll” (2009) a review of the glory days of rock’n’roll.  The disc opens with “The White Man Made Me Do It”, a terrific rant about racial relations and making something out of little or nothing (including a serious side dish of irony) and includes several additional statements (admittedly not quite as fresh as others, even if they retain their overall significance).  The remainder celebrate some essential r’n’b or soul landmarks, such as the Robins’ “Smokey Joe’s Cafe”, the Clovers “Your Cash Ain’t Nothin’ But Trash”, and Sam Cooke’s “You Send Me”. There’s even a tribute to Sly Stone.  The disc is less consistently awesome than some of his earlier work, but the Dogg always has plenty to say to all of us!  As long as Swamp Dogg is alive, the national race land social/political mission and reality will always be ON the table!  Click here for a brief interview with Swamp Dogg.


Prof. Bebop


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