New Jazz & Blues – 1/25/2022

New Jazz & Blues Releases – 1/25/2022

New Jazz:

Dawn DeRow – My Ship – Songs From 1941 (Zoho): “A New Yorker by way of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, Dawn grew up in Eastham, MA and began pursuing her performing career in her childhood. She graduated from the Boston Conservatory with a Bachelor’s in Music: Vocal Performance & Opera Emphasis, achieving the second highest vocal score in her class. After graduation, Dawn performed in operas and musicals around the world, as well as a guest entertainer aboard international cruise ships, displaying an uncanny ability to transition from singing a Puccini aria to a jazzy torch song. In 2008, Dawn, having lived in New York City for several years, began to pursue a Cabaret career. Over the past 12 years, she has performed in prestigious venues, including the Weill Center at Carnegie Hall, Birdland Jazz Club, The Laurie Beechman Theater, Don’t Tell Mama, The Friars Club, the Bitter End, The Cutting Room, Carroll Place, and most recently The Green Room 42… In 2015, Dawn won her first MAC award for her work in the duo show REVOLUTION with Kathleen France. In 2016, Dawn employed her formidable opera singing skills in her solo show LEGIT: A Classical Cabaret. She received a Bistro Award for “Outstanding Vocalist” for her performance. Two years later, Dawn won the 2018 MAC Award for “Best Female Vocalist” for her critically acclaimed show, My Ship: Songs from 1941.” (https://www.dawnderow.com/about) Click here for an introduction to this release.

Chet Doxas – You Can’t Take It With You (Whirlwind): “Juno-winning saxophonist Chet Doxas is a guiding voice in the world of creative improvised music. Doxas, co-leader of Riverside with trumpeter Dave Douglas and a respected collaborator of Carla Bley and Paul Bley, joins Whirlwind for You Can’t Take It With You, his ninth album as a leader and first at the head of a trio. He’s joined by two stand-out collaborators, Ethan Iverson (piano) and Thomas Morgan (bass) – for a meticulously constructed album with playful positivity at its heart. Both the inspiration and the encouragement to put this album together can be traced back to Carla Bley. Jimmy Giuffre’s trio was a big influence on Doxas – “the way he shapes and articulates is one of a kind” – and the group regularly featured Bley’s music. An early-morning airport transfer saw Doxas discussing future plans with Bley and Steve Swallow, who advised Doxas to write “one song a month”, distraction- free for a year. The ten tracks on the album represent a year spent writing and closely editing his compositions. That process gradually revealed his trio, selected for their personal sensibilities as much as their outstanding technical capabilities. “Ethan and Thomas’s tones are very inspiring. I wanted to let myself be guided by their sound palettes, and focus on phrasing in a way that’s a little more multidimensional.” Doxas’ music is serious in both its commitment to humour and in its quest to find a deeper positivity beyond the tongue-in-cheek. “The whole album is playing with the universal joke of how seriously we can take ourselves versus how serious things really are.” ‘You Can’t Take It With You’ is suitably macabre, lowering incrementally over the course of the track. ‘Lodestar (for Lester Young)’ is a nod to the single note rhythmic fantasies Young was fond of late in his career; in typical Doxas fashion, it meets the music of Louis Andriessen head on, as Iverson ventures inside of the piano. ‘Cheryl and George’ is a take on Body and Soul and a tribute to his parents, ending a trio of tracks with a chromatic focus. ‘Part of a Memory’ is a meeting of timbres, an exercise in bass and saxophone matching tones half-remembered from a dream. ‘Twelve Foot Blues’ is a whimsical tribute to Mark Twain, before ‘The Last Pier’ creates “the soundtrack to a scene that doesn’t exist”. ‘Soapbox’ flexes a political muscle, taking aim at America’s frustrating news covering and channelling Ornette Coleman in speech-like patter-tones. There’s a strong imaginative streak running through the album, inspired by youthful energy of Bley, Swallow and guitarist Jim Hall – ‘Up There In The Woods’ is the tune Doxas “would have taken to Jim Hall’s house”, while ‘All The Roads’ is based on a Mr Rogers non-speech – a track with a single focus that asks for grateful reflection. ‘View from a Bird’ concludes the album in a creative take on the art of Joan Miro.” (https://chetdoxas-whirlwind.bandcamp.com/album/you-cant-take-it-with-you) This collection is amazing in so many aspects – fun, beauty, style and depth. Click here to listen to the songs on this release.

Joe Fielder’s “Open Sesame” – Fuzzy And Blue (Multiphonics): “In 2019 trombonist Joe Fiedler released Open Sesame, packed with inventive jazz readings of material drawn from his longstanding “day job” as an EMMY-nominated music director and staff arranger for the famed children’s show Sesame Street. The effort was equally beloved by lay listeners and the jazz world alike. DownBeat praised the music’s “diverse aesthetic,” in which Fiedler blends “elements of funk, rock, free-jazz and New Orleans polyphony into a potent mix that gives depth and texture to the lighthearted compositions.” When Fiedler and the band toured the music, including a stop at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola with guest luminaries Wynton Marsalis and none other than Elmo himself, the realization set in that the project would be no one-off. “I have these songbooks from the Sesame Street office,” Fiedler says, “and if you whip through the first 30 tunes, absolutely everyone knows them. But there are six or seven thousand songs they’ve done over the past 50 years, with plenty of gold in there to do a second album for sure.” Fuzzy and Blue, Fiedler’s second volume of Sesame Street songs, shines still more light on the extraordinary wit and melodic gift of the foundational Sesame Street composers Joe Raposo and Jeffrey Moss, among others. The album boasts the same top-tier lineup as Open Sesame, with a couple of twists. Trumpeter Steven Bernstein, who played on only part of Open Sesame, now becomes an integral cog in a nimble three-horn section, expanding and varying the palette and allowing Fiedler to bring his seasoned orchestration skills to the foreground. Reedman Jeff Lederer plays tenor and clarinet and relies more heavily on soprano sax this time out, helping achieve the ideal blend of colors and registers that Fiedler was seeking. Drummer Michael Sarin and bassist Sean Conly keep the rhythms locked and creatively churning, from the Dr. John/Professor Longhair vibe of “Fuzzy and Blue” to the reggae feel of “Elmo’s Song” (by Tony Geiss), to the Hugh Masekela-inspired Afropop of “Ladybug’s Picnic” (originally a peppy country novelty by the late William “Bud” Luckey). The ensemble also gets a visit from vocal powerhouse Miles Griffith, the very model of a guest on Sesame Street. On the “I Love Trash/C Is for Cookie” melange (a one-two shot of Moss and Raposo), Griffith’s singing is unabashed, larger than life, uproariously funny but insightful and firmly in control. He’s equally compelling in a sociopolitical vein on “I Am Somebody,” in which Fiedler combines an original song with the lyrics of Reverend William Holmes Borders — words recited to powerful effect on Sesame Street in 1972 by Reverend Jesse Jackson. Fiedler felt a need on Fuzzy and Blue to acknowledge social tumult at the close of the Trump presidency and the still-tentative aftermath of the COVID pandemic. “We Are All Earthlings,” a gentle and idyllic Jeffrey Moss folk ballad from 1993, accomplishes this as well, though Fiedler brings a stark added tension with his Stravinsky-esque horn voicings. The backing instrumentalists are Joe Fiedler (trombone), Jeff Lederer (soprano & tenor saxophones, clarinet), Steven Bernstein (trumpet, slide trumpet, flugelhorn, G trumpet), Sean Conly (acoustic and electric bass), Michael Sarin (drums) and Miles Griffith, vocals. (Tracks 4 & 7).” (https://joefiedler.bandcamp.com/album/fuzzy-and-blue) Click here to listen to the songs on this wonderfully hip and blend set!

Sean Fyfe Quartet – Late Night (Cellar Music): “Sean Fyfe is a New York based Canadian pianist. He began playing piano at age 5, and was immersed in jazz at age 14 in high school. He has completed performance degrees in piano at McGill University, and Manhattan School of Music, and brings a style to the piano heavily influenced by Bill Evans, Wynton Kelly and McCoy Tyner. He has worked with some of Canada’s finest musicians, including Andre White, Dave Laing, Kevin Dean, Tony Genge, Sean Drabitt, Al McLean and Sam Kirmayer. Here’s some album background from Dave Laing- It never fails to amaze how a musician’s personality comes through so clearly in their music. This is especially true for improvisers. Composers may write the most wistful, or coltish, or uninhibited of melodic themes (and Sean certainly does all of that and more with this musical offering); but the performer in the act of improvisation really has nowhere to hide. Even if they wanted to only offer up well-worn clichés, or drench their solos in complex harmonic decoration, or devoutly channel past musical heroes, the very act of performance still inevitably reveals the soul behind the sound. And in fact what Sean and his bandmates all do instead is express their individuality with a deep knowledge of the tradition, a hard-earned understanding of music’s mechanics, and the absorption of lessons learned from past masters.
Sean Fyfe has become something of a vagabond as he roams about the globe and it is coming through in the cosmopolitan nature of his music. He originally hails from the expansive natural beauty of Vancouver Island before formative residencies in Montreal and New York, prior to his current home base of London, England. The group Sean has assembled here comprise his Montreal collaborators: veteran rhythm section masters Adrian Vedady on bass and drummer André White, along with guitarist Sam Kirmayer—a close contemporary of Sean’s who has performed and recorded with Sean on numerous occasions.” Click here to listen to the songs on this release.

Carlos Henriquez – The South Bronx Story (Tiger Turn): “Carlos Henriquez was born in 1979 in the Bronx, New York. He studied music at a young age, played guitar through junior high school, and took up the bass while enrolled in The Juilliard School’s Music Advancement Program. He entered LaGuardia High School of Music & Arts and Performing Arts and was involved with the LaGuardia Concert Jazz Ensemble which went on to win first place in Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Essentially Ellington High School Jazz Band Competition and Festival in 1996. In 1998, swiftly after high school, Henriquez joined the Wynton Marsalis Septet and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, touring the world and featured on more than 25 albums. Henriquez has performed and recorded with artists including Chucho Valdes, Paco De Lucia, Tito Puente, Eddie Palmieri, Danilo Perez, Gonzalo Rubalcaba, the Marsalis Family, Willie Nelson, Bob Dylan, Stevie Wonder, Lenny Kravitz, Marc Anthony, and many others. He has been a member of the music faculty at Northwestern University School of Music since 2008 and was music director of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra’s cultural exchange with the Cuban Institute of Music with Chucho Valdes in 2010. Since then Carlos has lead many Jazz at Lincoln Center concerts as a featured artist and has brought a new sound to the Organization with his duo musical visions. His collaboration with the great Ruben Blades in Nov 2014, gave the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orch a huge new outlook to playing Salsa/Latin Jazz. Henriquez is no stranger to the musical Afro dialect in Jazz and Latin styles. He continues to flourish as a great Bassist with 3 great projects as a leader. The Bronx Pyramid [ Blue Engine Release ], Dizzy Con Clave [ RodBros Release ], and the latest The South Bronx Story  [ Tiger Turn Digital Release ] which is a bold multi-movement work of the social history of the South Bronx, and draws from Henriquez’s personal Puerto Rican heritage. Carlos currently holds the Bass chair position with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra.” (https://www.carloshenriquezmusic.com/about) Click here to listen samples of the songs on this release.

Remy Le Boueuf’s Assembly Of Shadows – Architecture Of Storms (Soundspore): “Following his May 2019 leader debut, Light as a Word—hailed by the San Francisco Chronicle for its “radiant, uncluttered beauty”—saxophonist Remy Le Boeuf takes a major leap forward in his artistic journey with his jazz orchestra release, Assembly of Shadows. Before embarking on the title work, a cinematic five-movement suite that also serves as the ensemble’s namesake, the album begins with the standalone composition “Strata” and a kaleidoscopic reimagining of Ornette Coleman’s “Honeymooners.” The players that populate Assembly of Shadows are among New York City’s finest, including Anna Webber (flute), Philip Dizack (trumpet), Alex Goodman (guitar) and of course Le Boeuf himself on alto/soprano saxophones and woodwinds. “I considered the unique voices of the soloists in the band and how I could highlight them to tell the story behind the music,” says Le Boeuf. And what a story. The suite follows the experience of “a child who runs away into a nearby forest, gets lost, and falls asleep,” Le Boeuf explains. “When she wakes, the shadows of the trees come alive and dance with her. Some are kind, some are scary, but they all teach her something about herself. They guide her home as the moon sets and she wakes up in her own bed, wondering if her adventure happened in reality or if it was a dream.” Le Boeuf cites his love for jazz composers such as Maria Schneider and Charles Mingus, but also many 20th-century classical influences that trace back to his childhood, such as Leonard Bernstein, Aaron Copland, and Benjamin Britten: “Growing up I traveled to the Vatican to sing Leonard Berstein’s Mass as a boy soprano soloist.” Le Boeuf continues, “I was also obsessed with Mingus and listened to Mingus Ah Um every night for a year while I slept so that I would internalize it. I had no idea at the time how these childhood experiences would shape my musical taste. They continue to serve me as a composer to this day.” (https://remyleboeuf.bandcamp.com/album/assembly-of-shadows) Performers are: Conductor: Gregory Robbins; Featured Guests: Julia Easterlin³ / Vocals; Dayna Stephens⁴ / Tenor Sax; Remy Le Boeuf¹³⁵⁷⁹ / Alto Sax, Soprano Sax, Flute, Alto Flute; Ben Kono / Flute, Clarinet, Alto Sax, Tenor Sax; Vito Chiavuzzo / Flute, Alto Sax; Lucas Pino / Tenor Sax, Clarinet; John Lowery / Tenor Sax, Clarinet; Carl Maraghi / Bari Sax, Bass Clarinet; Anna Webber* / Flute; Trumpets: John Lake, Seneca Black; Tony Glausi; Philip Dizack; Mike Rodriguez²; Matt Holman⁶; Dave Adewumi; Trombones: Mike Fahie; Eric Miller; Natalie Cressman⁸; Sam Blakeslee⁴; Javier Nero; Isaac Kaplan; Jennifer Wharton; Guitar: Alex Goodman; Horace Bray**; Piano, Martha Kato⁶⁸⁹; Bass, Matt Aronoff⁵ ; Drums: Peter Kronreif;  Percussion: James Shipp† / Vibraphone, Percussion; and Joe Saylor‡ / Tambourine. Click here to listen to the songs on this release.

Lionel Loueke – Close Your Eyes (Sounderscore): “Lionel Loueke, one of the jazz world’s most searingly original and sought-after guitarists, has devoted the bulk of his output to original music. But Close Your Eyes, originally released on vinyl by Newvelle in 2018, found the Benin-born Loueke focusing entirely on standards and canonical jazz classics. Joined by the marquee rhythm section of bassist Reuben Rogers and drummer Eric Harland (known for their inspired teamwork in groups led by Charles Lloyd, Aaron Goldberg and more), Loueke applied his distinctive rhythmic and harmonic approach to material from the Great American Songbook as well as the oeuvre of jazz greats John Coltrane, Wayne Shorter, Thelonious Monk and Miles Davis. Now, thanks to Sounderscore Records, an independent label founded by Loueke’s longtime Gilfema bandmate Massimo Biolcati, Close Your Eyes is being issued for the first time on CD and digitally, streaming on all major platforms. Three additional songs not featured on the vinyl release — John Coltrane’s “Countdown,” Hoagy Carmichael’s “Skylark” and Thelonious Monk’s “We See” — are also now available for the first time on the Sounderscore reissue.” (Liner notes) Dazzling! Click here to listen to “Close Your Eyes” from this release.

Nortonk – Nortonk (Biophilia): “The young players of the New York quartet Nortonk take inspiration from that great lineage of iconic, free-minded jazz bands without a harmony-establishing chordal instrument and stake their own claim with Nortonk, the group’s absorbing debut album. Nortonk’s name is an homage to one of its biggest mentors in college, the drummer-composer and teacher Kevin Norton (the band having drolly referred to him among themselves as “Nortonk” from how his name would appear in his e-mail address). “We liked the sound of the word, plus it had the bonus of subtly recognizing Kevin’s importance to us,” Crammer explains. Nortonk recorded the album just before the pandemic started. The group and its engineers endeavored to capture in the studio the intimate, visceral feel of the band’s live music-making, as the quartet recorded together on the studio floor without the typical separation.” (https://nortonk.bandcamp.com/) The players in the group are Thomas Killackey (trumpet), Gideon Forbes (alto sax), Stephen Pale (bass) and Steven Crammer (drums) and their music is on the edge and jumping. Click here to listen to “Chutes and Ladders” and “Herzog”.

Emile Parisien / Theo Croker / Roberto Negro / Manu Codjia / Joe Martin / Nasheet Waits – Louise (ACT): “The only time I saw French soprano saxophonist Emile Parisien, he was playing a duet with accordionist Vincent Peirani. They couldn’t have sounded more French, or what I heard in French. They were playing a kind of hip Gallic folk music closer to Django Reinhardt’s heritage than to that of Charlie Parker. (It helped that they were in Montreal.) But Louise, The Parisian’s new record is intentionally, and satisfactorily, international. It stars three Americans: trumpeter Theo Croker, bassist Joe Martin and drummer Nasheet Waits. (Croker is the grandson of legendary trumpeter Doc Cheatham and Waits the son of another esteemed musician drummer Freddie Waits.) Parisian and guitarist Manu Codjia are French while pianist Roberto Negro, now Parisian, was born in Turin, raised in Kinshasa, and studied in Chambéry before settling in Paris. Parisien wrote six of the album’s numbers; Among the exceptions is “Jungle Jig” by Manu Codjia, a raucous piece whose boppish lines frame the group improvisations energized by the drums playing of Nasheet Waits. The session begins solemnly with a deep note in the bass of the piano taken up by the trumpet. This is the title cut, “Louise,“ which is dedicated to the sculptor Louise Bourgeois, whose creations of spiders, large and small, made her famous all over the world. There is nothing spooky about this mostly dark composition. We can hear the guitar a little, but the background remains almost motionless as Parisien utters his written melody: everything seems to float serenely in this introduction, whether it is played by the saxophone or when Croker takes it. on. Then the rhythm section kicks in and the two horns together play the spellbinding main melody. The improvisations that follow, by Croker and guitarist Codjia, maintain the unperturbed lyricism of the overture, except that there is a characteristic Parisian ending: the horns begin to repeat part of the theme with increasing intensity until that the part expires. He likes to finish things suddenly.” (https://rowanbluesandjazz.org/jazz-album-review-louise-by-emile-parisien-sextet-deeply-lyrical-disciplined-and-free/) Many sounds meld or break loose as this group shapes through the styles. Click here for a short sample from “Louise” the title song.

Bernie Senensky – Don’t Look Back (Cellar Live): “Born in Winnipeg Manitoba in 1944, Bernie Senasky learned classical piano from age nine and became interested in jazz as a teenager. He moved to Toronto in ’68 and played briefly with high-profile visiting musicians, including Chet Baker, Art Blakey and Art Pepper. He then played with Moe Koffman touring internationally from 1980-2000. Between 1975 and 1995 he released seven small group albums with various players including Kirk Macdonald, Eddie Henderson, Gary Bartz and Bobby Watson. Recorded in 1989, “Don’t Look Back” hasn’t ever been previously released. This rare newly discovered album features some notable jazz session players including Bob Mover-Alto Saxophone, Sam Moto-Trumpet, Neil Swainson-bass and Barry Elmes-Drums. The 11-track set features 8 original composition with 3 interpretations on some jazz classics including Gershwin’s “Who Cares” and the Hank Mobley track “The Latest”. This is some hard hitting bop that’s sure to warn up a winter’s night.”(https://www.rabox.is/3137938369-bernie-senensky-dont-look-back-2022.html) The players are Bernie Senensky (piano), Bob Mover (alto sax), Sam Noto (trumpet), Neil Swainson (bass) and Barry Elmes (drums). Click here to listen to samples of the songs on this release.

Dave Sewelson – Smooth Free Jazz (Mahakala): “Smooth jazz has always seemed like a contradiction in terms. The idea that jazz, a musical gift to America from black people that includes revolutionary concepts of cooperative improvisation and trust, could have its edges beveled and the thrill of spontaneity muted and made “safe”, would be like taking the revolution out or revolutionary and just leaving the airy. Smooth FreeJazz is a creative display of this dichotomy by contrasting a smooth center with a fiery edge. Who better to lead the way than Dave Sewelson, one of the oldest members of New York’s Downtown Scene. Instead of music being a shag rug on the floor with the scent of air freshener, we see that it’s a dirt floor with a strong wind through the window.” (https://sewelson.bandcamp.com/album/smooth-freejazz) The players on this release are Dave Sewelson (Baritone Saxophone, Voice),  Mike Neer (Lap Steel Guitar), Dave Hofstra (Bass) and Bernice “Boom Boom” Brooks (Drums). Click here to listen to the songs on this disc.

Steve Slage – Into The Heart Of It (Panorama): “With saxophonist and composer Steve Slagle you can expect the unexpected. From his early days on the NYC scene which he joined in the mid-70s (almost instantly joining the fray at the highest level with the likes of Machito And His Afro-Cubans, Steve Kuhn, Lionel Hampton, Charlie Haden, The Mingus Big Band, Carla Bley, and many others), Slagle has always been an artist up for new challenges and horizons. This holds true even after more than twenty albums as a leader, and forty years of creating music on stages and in studios around the word with many of the finest musicians of this era.
For artists, the impact of the sudden isolation and inability to work brought on by the global pandemic manifested itself in myriad ways, one of which was influencing many, including Steve Slagle, to create with a fervour. As Slagle stated, “In the worst of times, sometimes the best music comes out of you.” This past April-2021 Slagle released the critically-acclaimed, Nascentia, and hot on the heels of this album we have another testament to the superlative level of his creative output, a true first for Slagle in a stunning bouquet of ballads, Ballads: Into The Heart Of It, to be released on Panorama Records on February 18, 2022. The album features special guest Randy Brecker, pianist Bruce Barth, bassist Ugonna Okegwo, drummer Jason Tiemann and Richard Sussman, who provides synth orchestrations and drum programming to great effect on three selections. Into The Heart Of It opens with Bill Evans and Miles Davis’ “Blue In Green,” and Slagle renders this iconic composition anew, wringing every bit of emotion from the melody with a minimalist approach. Accompanied by longtime friend and colleague Richard Sussman’s orchestrations and Okegwo, Slagle is completely exposed, his opening phrase a cry for humanity, a sonic prayer for the earth. Next up is Slagle’s take on Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn’s, “Le Sucrier Velours (The Queen’s Suite),” a gem from Duke’s oeuvre, originally released in ’76, and again on Live At The Whitney (recorded in ’72 and released in ’95, on Impulse!). We’re getting a clear picture now that this is no ordinary ballads album, and it was designed that way. “I really ruminated over this,” says Slagle, “and I find it interesting to take on the challenge of trying to maintain one mood or texture across an entire program. But I didn’t want this to be a traditional ballads record where everything sounds the same. And as much as I love many of them, I definitely wasn’t looking to recreate any of the classic ballads albums that I, and many people, grew up listening to. So, there are a number of originals here, and some classics. But I wouldn’t touch those classics if I wasn’t going to try things differently. At this point I can’t help but impart my own slant on the music we play.” (https://soundindepth.com/steve-slagle-ballads-into-the-heart-of-it/2022/01/16/top-jazz-news/admin/) Randy Brecker joins Slagle a few times as well! I regret I am unable to find a sample from this release.

New Blues:

Eric Gales – Crown (Provogue): “‘My Name Is Eric Gales … Any Questions?’ – that’s the spoken opening for an album, the words said with quiet authority, and with a sure-footed confidence knowing what is to follow. Co-produced with the one and only Joe Bonamassa, ‘Crown’ ushers in a new era for Eric, now free of his addiction to drugs, with jail time long behind him. Now he is more focussed than ever, and ‘Crown’ is a testament’ to his genuine love of life, to the clarity his difficult past has given him, and to his undimmed luminosity as a musician.Thirty years and eighteen albums into his career, and Mr Gales has dug deep inside himself, and has found again that once dimmed brilliance, and delivers an album jam packed with stunning fretwork, lovingly crafted songs, and a burning passion to reclaim his place amongst the greats in the Blues Rock genre. Featuring no less than sixteen songs – well, thirteen, plus three brief instrumental interludes – in the form of ‘Had To Dip’, ‘Rattlin’ ‘Change’ and ‘Cupcakin’…’, ‘Crown’ is an absolute musical Tour De Force!
By now I’m presuming that most people reading this have already heard or seen ‘I Want My Crown’, which features a dazzling guitar battle betwixt Messrs Gale and Bonamassa, if ever you needed proof that the man was back … look no further. A funky riff overlaid with brass stabs that eventually leads to the guitar fireworks … it’s genuinely stellar stuff. Elsewhere, the album is full of differing moods and styles and works beautifully for that very reason. One thing I admire above anything else here is this – the fact that Eric fully understands that less is more, and therefore doesn’t need to endlessly prove himself as a guitarist, he knows full well when to let fly, but also when to let the music breathe organically. What this means is that there is lots of clear separation between instruments, and Eric allows his band to shine without feeling the need to endlessly overshadow them. To call this album ‘Blues’ or ‘Blues Rock’ is to do it and Mr Gales a great disservice as it’s so much more than that. Throughout the album yes, he does play the blues, of course he does, however, he also takes his musical journey into Gospel, Funk (there are definite nods to both Parliament and Funkadelic to be found here), Rock, and Soul – he has truly created a multi-faceted beast here, and as a result, it is far and away his most complete and accomplished album to date. The best songs here are not necessarily the warp speed neck-wringing hard rockers, for my money it is when he plays and sings with raw emotion and heartfelt delicacy when he truly shines – just listen to the incredible ‘Stand Up’ and you will see what I mean, it is simply breath-taking. Other highlights are the lyrically pointed and very groovy ‘You Don’t Know The Blues’ which also shows Eric at his funky and fiery best on his guitar. The truly epic ‘Too Close To The Fire’ is an absolute slow burner, again Eric not only sings with raw emotion, but shows why he is considered such a genius as an axeman. Curiously, the riff is almost certainly ‘borrowed’ from the Pink Floyd classic ‘Comfortably Numb’ just listen to the female backing vocals too -it’s almost uncanny. Regardless, Eric’s fretwork here is gloriously incendiary, leaving you dazzled by his dexterity.” (https://rockposer.com/2022/01/10/review-eric-gales-crown/) Click here to listen to “I Want My Crown” which also features Joe Bonamassa.

Katie Henry – On My Way (Ruf): “Now, with the release of her second album, On My Way, Katie has found another gear. Whether slinging her trusty Gibson SG, hammering the keys, or hollering up a storm, these ten original songs, co-written with bassist and slide-guitar maestro Antar Goodwin, announced her as an alchemist who creates gemstones from the base metals of American roots. “There’s a great range of songs on this album,” Katie reflects. “You get a sense of the things I’ve been going through, the fights I’ve won, the fights I’ve lost, and the determination needed to continue. All wrapped in a rock and roots package.” (https://katiehenrymusic.com/about) Henry is backed by Antar Goodwin (bass, slide guitar), Ben Rice (guitar, vocal), Kurt Thum (piano/organ), and Greg Wieczorek (drums/percussion), plus British harp ace Giles Robson. Click here to listen “On My Way”.

Big Llou Johnson – Big Man (GoldenVoice): “It’s been a minute since Blues Music Award Winner, BigLLou Johnson as released any new blues music. Not that he hasn’t been in the studio though. Au contraire, he practically lives in his own home studio where he says he tries to stay busy churning out voice overs for TV and radio spots and even doing character voices for toys. But you may know him best as the Voice Host of one of the biggest blues stations in the world, B.B. Kings Bluesville on Sirius-XM, a gig he’s had since Sirius and XM merged. He was chosen by the original and legendary Program Director, Bill Wax. The two became great friends and it was Bill who encouraged him to record his first blues album and use local musicians from Chicago. Bill also invited him to co-host the Blues Music Awards which were broadcast on Bluesville at the time. It was in Memphis that he met the blues legend Mr. Bobby Rush who gave him the advice, “When you make a record… make sure you put your name in it so folks will remember you.” And that’s how the Blues Music Award winning album, They Call Me Big LLou, came into being. BigLLou took home the award for “Best New Artist” in 2013.Fast forward to 2020 — America is divided and in the throngs of a pandemic, so BigLLou thought that this was as good a time as any to put pen to paper and finish the album he’d been working off and on for years. “SunShine On Yo Face” is the first release from the upcoming album, Big Man – The Legend of BigLLou, on GoldenVoice Audio Recordings.” (http://thebluesvillerevue.weebly.com/about.html) Click here to listen to samples of the songs on this release.

Various Artists – Blind Raccoon and NOLA Blue (Blue Heart): This compilation is the fourth double to share samples of songs spanning from Blind Lemon Pledge and Trudy Lynn to Clarence Spady and Teresa James and many others. These releases were released to show the variety of the songs to offer. Click here to listen to the variety styles they offer.

Kopasetically,

Professor Bebop

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