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New Jazz & Blues
Chris Cortez – Live at Blue Bamboo (Blue Bamboo Music): “Blue Bamboo Music Inc started in 1986 as a vehicle for shameless, self promotion of my work. Eventually, I learned that by sharing my resources with others, I helped myself. My playing, singing, engineering, producing, and cinematography skills are all enhanced by the associations with the artists on my label. By enabling their work, I serve my own. It’s an incredible life lesson, and the way I’ve decided to build my company. As a record label, we support about a dozen, cutting edge jazz, and jazz crossover artists we feel are deserving of wider recognition. Our work continues to grow and diversify. Please enjoy, and recommend us to your friends. Many thanks! (Chris Cortez) Players include Chris Cortez (guitar), Doug Mathews and Ron Jenkins (bass, tenor sax), Joel Rosenblatt and Jeff Sipe (drums), Bob Thornton (piano) Jeff Rupert (tenor sax), John DePaola (trumpet) and Dan Jordan (flute). Click here to listen to the songs on this release.
Craig Davis – Tone Painting: The Music Of Dodo Marmarosa (Manchester Craftsmen Guild): “Noted Pittsburgh Pianist Craig Davis stops by the MCG Jazz Spotlight in a visit with Marty Ashby about jazz, influences and Craig’s new CD “Tone Paintings – the Music of Dodo Marmarosa” on MCG Jazz records. Michael “Dodo” Marmarosa was born in Pittsburgh in 1925, and attended Peabody High. He started actively performing at 15 and had many early success, including notable recordings with the likes of Charlie Parker and Miles Davis. But a variety of setbacks in his life kept him from the broader acclaim many performers and critics feel he deserved. For his new release, shaped by the music of Dodo, Craig Davis has formed a trio with two modern jazz legends with strong connections with Pittsburgh’s Ray Brown: Jeff Hamilton (drums) and John Clayton (bass). Marty Ashby and Craig share music from the new release, plus sounds of Dodo Marmarosa and other influential jazz pianists like Bill Evans and Chick Corea.” (https://www.wzum.org/jazz-blog/2022/8/12/mcgjazz-0-aj-wscmn) Click here to listen to the songs in this set.
Tim Fitzgerald – Full House (Cellar 20): Led by Tim Fitzgerald with his totally solid guitar and featuring Victor Garcia (trumpet), Greg Ward II (alto sax), Chris Madsen (tenor sax), Tom Vaitsas (piano), Christian Dillingham (bass) and George Fludas (drums). Click and listen to large of bites of each song on the this disc.
Steven Feifke & Bijon Watson – Present Generation Gap Jazz Orchestra (Cellar 20): “Steven Feifke (pianist, composer, arranger/orchestator and conductor) and Bijon Watson (lead trumpet) have joined forces to bring together a big band featuring some of the most well known names in all of jazz including Kurt Elling, Sean Jones, John Fedchock, and more. The co-leaders are both “frequent-flyer-mile” performers in a number of internationally acclaimed large ensembles, and noticed one small problem in each one: there is almost no generation gap! The longstanding tradition spearheaded by artists like Art Blakey and Horace Silver of hiring the “young guns” for an ensemble has all but disappeared in recent years.With more than two decades between them, Steven and Bijon make the objective of “The Generation Gap Jazz Orchestra” to strengthen that tradition of mentorship that has shaped and defined the jazz idiom since its earliest beginnings…. The co-leaders are both “frequent-flyer-mile” performers in a number of internationally acclaimed large ensembles, and noticed one small problem in each one: there is almost no generation gap! The longstanding tradition spearheaded by artists like Art Blakey and Horace Silver of hiring the “young guns” for an ensemble has all but disappeared in recent years. With more than two decades between them, Steven and Bijon make the objective of “The Generation Gap Jazz Orchestra” to strengthen that tradition of mentorship that has shaped and defined the jazz idiom since its earliest beginnings.” (https://www.stevenfeifkemusic.com/algorithm) Check the mesh between the younger and elder certainly blend with each other! Check here to blend so nicely their “algorithms”.
Marshall Gilkes – Cyclic Journey (Alternate Side Records): “Wonders never cease with Marshall Gilkes. Having previously reached extraordinary heights as a leader on a breakout quartet set, two standout quintet dates, a pair of essential releases with the WDR Big Band and one stunning trio album, this celebrated trombonist and composer now moves beyond known borders. Directing and fronting a sui generis assemblage merging a top-shelf rhythm combo with a brilliant brass ensemble, he uncovers and explores the conventions of his own cyclic journey. “I wrote the music for this album in March and April of 2022, but I’ve had this idea—to bring these two worlds together—for quite some time,” Gilkes explains. “And in terms of the theme, it really came to light through reflection on what’s most familiar to me. That’s how I arrived at the idea to write a soundtrack to my daily external and internal existence.” That soundtrack, taking shape as a nine-movement suite illustrating the beauty and grounding influences Gilkes finds in his family life and day-to-day designs, serves as a bridge, highlighting his rare ability to cross over and operate at the highest levels in both the jazz and classical realms. The personnel that he convened for the project—an incredibly accomplished and unique gathering—mirrors that uncommon flexibility. Pianist Aaron Parks, bassist Linda May Han Oh and drummer Johnathan Blake form a dream team on the rhythm end, bringing exceptional support and depth of presence to the music. And a well-integrated brass octet binds a who’s who of classical heavies and some of Gilkes’ fellow scene straddlers. That cadre includes trumpeters Brandon Ridenour, of Canadian Brass fame, Ethan Bensdorf, from the New York Philharmonic, and Tony Kadleck, who leads the pack of lead players in the Big Apple; horn marvel Adam Unsworth, Professor of Horn at the University of Michigan and a former member of the Philadelphia Orchestra; the legendary Joseph Alessi, longstanding Principal Trombone in the New York Philharmonic; bass trombonist Nick Schwartz, from the New York City Ballet; euphonium ace Demondrae Thurman, Chair of the Brass Department at Indiana University; and tuba titan Marcus Rojas, who, having held down the low end for everybody from Henry Threadgill to the Metropolitan Opera, seemingly knows no limits. Together, that two-pronged team breathes tremendous life into this aural representation of Gilkes’ days. Opening on “First Light,” these musicians capture the beauty and optimism inherent in the dawn hours. “I usually wake up first in my house, the sunlight gently comes through the windows and things are quiet…before my kids come in and jump on me,” Gilkes shares with a chuckle. “So that’s really a piece about the gears of life starting to turn at the beginning of each day.” Welcoming chorales, a key element throughout the album, bookend the proceedings, leaving space between for Gilkes and the rhythm section to paint with pensive strokes. Once in motion there’s the “Up and Down” ritual—dropping the kids at school, hitting the gym and putting things in play. As the trombonist notes, “that really focuses on the idea of venturing out into the world.” Moving along with a hip and understated groove that grows in strength as time progresses and the brass brethren join in, that second offering acts as a perfect frame for Gilkes’ warm and melodious horn. Then comes “The Calm,” which looks closely at “the first chance to catch your breath, orient yourself and gather your thoughts to organize the day.” A peaceable production that smoothly integrates all of the prime elements in the mix—Gilkes’ inviting lines, a sympathetic brass presence, a sensitive rhythm section—it also leaves room to admire Oh’s rounded bass soloing. As Gilkes and company continue on, the demands of the day intensify and the need for meditative space grows in parallel. “Go Get It!,” opening with fanfare before transitioning into an animated odd-metered showcase for the leader’s redoubtable slide work, is all about can-do attitude and action. “Respite,” built as a midday break, blends contemplation with contentment. “Beat the Clock,” expressing the urgency that comes with trying to get the most out of the minutes that remain, is absolutely vital. And “Genre Battles,” pitting a proud-and-prancing brass section against a swinging jazz outfit, acknowledges Gilkes’ broad stylistic reach and proves ingenious in its use and twisting of Rhythm changes. Having held membership in or worked with the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, Slide Monsters, Maria Schneider Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, Brass Band of Battle Creek and numerous other front-rank ensembles in both the jazz and classical orbits, there are few others as qualified to deliver such masterful and humorous commentary. By the time the penultimate “Musings” appears with its gift of flowing thought, and the title track carries things to a conclusion with warmth, soaring ambitions and a satisfying resolution, the cycle is complete. But all isn’t said and done. In one final bow to brass grandeur, Gilkes and his fellow horn men bring down the house with “Sin Filtro.” A bonus track boasting some of the leader’s signatures—extreme register jumps, strong melodies, sophisticated harmonies, rhythmic intensity— it’s a Spanish-tinged stunner that spotlights this unbelievable collection of slide and valve virtuosos. As a coda to Cyclic Journey it also serves an important purpose in further addressing Gilkes’ true musical passions. “I’m honestly someone who adores classical brass playing, but also loves jazz. And I feel like with this project it’s not just about the combination of two groups or ideas, but the musicians themselves. Linda’s sound on the bass is just so incredibly pure. Aaron’s touch on the piano, evident, for example, in the way he takes over after that fanfare on ‘Go, Get It!,’ is beautiful. The way Johnathan plays and orchestrates everything just elevates the music. And I have the ultimate cast of characters with these brass players. I feel like I’m very lucky that I was able to bring together the perfect group of people.” Dan Bilawsky, June 2022 Click here to hear “Cyclic Journey”.
Jeremy Green – Standing Eight (www.jeremygreenguitar.com): “Guitarist Jeremy Green, began playing the electric guitar at the age of 12. It began when his older brother brought a used, brown burst, Ibanez Roadstar Custom into the house. He picked it up shortly after and has been “an addict” ever since. After about three years he began playing semi-professionally, performing in small clubs and party venues across southern Ontario, Canada. Since those early mid-80’s days, he has performed in and around the Toronto music scene in some of the most iconic venues. Jeremy has since recorded with name musicians such as: Mike Stern, Oz Noy, Robben Ford, Mark Letteiri, Keith Carlock, Victor Wooten, Billy Sheehan, Will Lee, Jimmy Haslip, Tim Lefebvre, Michel Cusson, Rich Brown, Paul DeLong, Moto Fukushima among others. His original works have gained praise from studios and industry experts and have been covered in various online sources and print publications such as Guitar Player Magazine.His music has been featured locally on JazzFM (Canada’s premier jazz radio station) and worldwide on other traditional radio stations, including spotlights in a growing list of places across the planet.Jeremy finally released his first true solo album titled “Standing Eight” in 2022. An 8-song instrumental funk fusion collaboration with drummer Keith Carlock (Steely Dan, John Mayer, Toto, Sting). Mixed & mastered by Jerry Guidroz in Nashville. The album received listing on “top 10 – best Jazz Prog Album” by 2 of six critics on popular music site “Sea of Tranquility” along with offers from labels for its release.” Click here to hear “Ain’t No Chevy”.
Reid Hoyson – That Sunday that summer (Reid Hoyson): Five originals from Hendrik Meurkens (harmonica), Rufus Reid (bass), David Berkman (piano), Reid Hoyson (drums) and Benny Koonyevsky (percussion) and four originals. I regret I can’t find from this release, good players!
Tobin Mueller – Pres-ti-dig-i-ta-tion (Tobin Mueller): “Pres–ti–dig–i–ta–tion [preste (French) ‘nimble’ + digitus (Latin) ‘fingers’]:
1) Sleight of hand; magic performed by one’s fingers. 2) The music of Tobin Mueller: fusing jazz, rock, funk & blues. Prestidigitation is Mueller’s latest studio recording, presenting fresh arrangements of contemporary fusion, jazz and progressive funk. The album is a follow up to Mueller’s celebrated 2018 double CD, Standard Deviations. Now, Mueller turns his attention to the second generation… Prestidigitation is Mueller’s latest studio recording, presenting fresh arrangements of contemporary fusion, jazz and progressive funk. The album is a follow up to Muller’s celebrated 2018 double CD, Standard Deviations. Standard Deviations focused on the greatest songs from the first generation of jazz masters. Now, Mueller turns his attention to the second generation…” (https://www.tobinmueller.com/prestidigitation/) Click here to listen to the title track.
Selebeyone – Xaybu: The Unseen (Pi Recordings): “Xaybu: The Unseen is the highly-anticipated sophomore release from Sélébéyone, the international avant-rap collective comprised of MCs. HPrizm (New York City) and Gaston Bandimic (Dakar), and saxophonists Steve Lehman (Los Angeles) and Maciek Lasserre (Paris). Described as “legitimately new” and a “revelation” by Pitchfork, the group’s eponymous 2016 debut was hailed as a game-changing synthesis of underground hip-hop, modern jazz and live electronic music. On Xaybu, Sélébéyone – which means “intersection” in Wolof – continues to build on its groundbreaking work with shifting rhythms and state-of-the art sound design, now with a newfound sense of effortless fluidity. The result is a profound musical statement that deftly explores spirituality and mysticism through the lens of experimental music.” (https://pirecordings.com/product/xaybu-the-unseen/) This is “Time Is The First Track”:
Time is the first Track
Been in a pot with a pendulum swinging
over my body
I’m doing time but I want to move freely
Everything and nothing is real
Separated and joined in a pot
Remember the America before amnesia hit
Way before reconstruction
In the canyons
Dreams got exploded by canons, a violent poem
Separated and joined in a pot, they soaked a bone
A star with satellites
A dream engineered and remixed
Slave ship from over here, seasick
Waves move in triangular patterns
Through the island ship captains knew the stars by name
I’m all over the place, erase history,
Built up in industry
Based on keeping us trapped
between bars there’s a echo
A voice I can’t quite make out
Without drums I had to break out
Time is the first track
Dave Slonaker Big Band – Convergency (Origin): “Stirring and colorful combinations of brass, saxophones, and woodwinds with jazz soloists and a grooving rhythm section continue to inspire jazz composers and arrangers. And so it has with me. As a young trombonist and then later as a composer and arranger, the sound of the big band or jazz orchestra has overwhelming been the sound of my life. I have had the good fortune to work alongside many of the musicians on this recording in the Hollywood studios. Serendipitously, I went to school with some of them, so the friendships and collegiality run long and deep. They have had careers of remarkable creative achievement, so Convergency seemed a good title for our second album since this band is a convergence of the lives and talents of these great musicians.
Composed, Arranged, and Conducted by Dave Slonaker”. Click here to listen to the songs in this set.
Yellowjackets – Parallel Motion (Mack Avenue): “Parallel Motion” — the new album from jazz fusion legends Yellowjackets — is a true testament to the longevity and resilience of a band who debuted over 40 years ago. Consistently reinventing themselves through elevated instrumentation in their signature electro-acoustic soundscape, the current lineup consisting of Bob Mintzer (tenor & soprano saxophone/EWI), Russell Ferrante (piano/keyboards), Will Kennedy (drums, keyboards) and Dane Alderson (electric bass, MIDI Sequencing) showcases a collective at their prime. This album features 9 new original compositions and guest vocalist Jean Baylor (4x GRAMMY® Award Nominee of the Baylor Project and R&B duo Zhané) on “If You Believe.” The players are Russell Ferrante (piano, keyboards), Bob Mintzer (tenor and soprano saxophones, EWI), Will Kennedy (drums, keyboards) and Dane Alderson (electric bass, MIDI sequencing). Click here to listen to the songs: https://yellowjacketsjazz.bandcamp.com/album/parallel-motion .
Miguel Zenon – MUSICA de las Americas (Miel Music): “Alto saxophonist, composer, and bandleader Miguel Zenón has focused his studies of Latin and Caribbean musics in a labyrinthine conversation with jazz throughout his career. The quartet’s last album, 2019’s wonderful Sonero, was dedicated to music associated with salsa singer and composer Ismael Rivera. Enabling Zenón’s vision are his longstanding bandmates: drummer Henry Cole, pianist Luis Perdomo, and bassist Hans Glawischnig. Música de las Américas also employs percussion quintet Los Pleneros De La Cresta and other guests in a work about the history of the American continent in pre- and post-Columbian eras. Click here and scroll down to listen to songs from this set.
Blues and Gospel
The Harlem Gospel Travelers – Look Up! (Coleman): “Things are looking up for The Harlem Gospel Travelers, who return here with a new album, a new lineup, and a new lease on life. Produced by Eli Paperboy Reed, Look Up! marks the group’s first full-length release as a trio, as well as their first collection of totally original material, and it couldn’t have come at a more vital moment. The music still draws deeply on the gospel quartet tradition of the ’50s and ’60s, of course, but there’s a distinctly modern edge to the record, an unmistakable reflection of the tumultuous past few years of pandemic anxiety, political chaos, and social unrest. The songs are bold and resilient, facing down doubt and despair with faith and perseverance, and the performances are explosive and ecstatic, fueled by dazzling vocal arrangements punctuated with gritty bursts of guitar and crunchy rhythm breaks. Born out of an non-profit music education program led by Reed, The Harlem Gospel Travelers—singers Thomas Gatling, George Marage, and Dennis Bailey—released their debut LP, He’s On Time, to rave reviews in 2019, with Pop Matters hailing the album’s “musical transcendence” and AllMusic praising it as “dreamlike and joyous.” The record charted on Billboard, earned the Travelers high profile fans like Elton John (who invited them to appear on his Rocket Hour radio show on Apple Music), and landed them festival slots everywhere from Pilgrimage to Telluride Jazz.” Scroll down so that you can listen samples. https://theharlemgospeltravelers.bandcamp.com/album/look-up
XJohn Nemeth – May Be The Last Time – NOLA Blues: “With about a dozen or so albums to his credit, absolutely none of them were released under such bizarre circumstances. As most of you already know, John Németh is currently facing not only a career altering situation but a life altering one as well. In his own words, here is what was on his mind at the time of its release… “I recorded this album before my jaw amputation surgery, which took place in late May. It’s called May Be the Last Time because I didn’t know then and I still don’t know, if I will ever sing or play again like I used to. I have to say, the magic of this performance is beyond this world and maybe the greatest of my life.” John Németh. Once word of this situation spread to the music community, a bunch of musicians did what musicians do in situations like this – they circled the wagons and came to the aid of a friend. Enter Kid Andersen, who not only recorded and produced the project in his Greaseland Studio but handpicked a handful of legends to help out as well. That said, on May Be the Last Time, John Németh – on vocals and harp – is joined by: Elvin Bishop on lead & rhythm guitar, and vocals; Bob Welsh on electric/acoustic/baritone guitars, and piano; Willy Jordan on cajon, drums and percussion; and of course, Kid on upright bass, Fender bass, bass guitar, and lead & rhythm guitar. Additionally, Alabama Mike helped Willy, Kid and Bob out on the group vocals. Along with a few originals from John and Elvin, the albums’ eleven tracks also include a handful of classic covers.
The disc opens with John, Elvin and Kid’s arrangement – or maybe even disarrangement – of the traditional “The Last Time” and trust me, there is nothing traditional about it. For those of you who may now be trying to recall The Staple Singers or the Rolling Stones renditions, don’t even bother. Sounding like a Gospel song being done by a jug band, this one features John singing about a very long list of real and humorous things he may be doing for the last time, while being backed up by the sometimes melodic and sometimes hysterical group vocals. Musically, thanks to Kid and the upright bass, it features profound rhythm and smokin’ harp leads from John – playing like it just may be the last time. Although it wasn’t, this song could have very well been written for John and his current situation. It’s the Elvin Bishop Band classic from 1972 that features John feeling like he’s hit “Rock Bottom” (J. Baker/E.Bishop). As the lyrics go “you talk about the lowdown blues, I got ’em. I do believe I’ve hit rock bottom.” On the other hand, hearing him belt this one out and blowin’ the hell out of the harp totally negates that frame of mind. More great rhythm being pounded out by Willy and the Kid, and fabulous guitar and piano leads from Elvin and Bob.” (https://atlantabluessociety.org/2022/09/john-nemeth-2/) Click this set so you can get a taste of two of second of the set.
John Primer – Hard Times (Blues House): As a teenager in the early ‘90s growing up in the muddy potato fields of Idaho, John Németh was drawn to the hard-edged hip hop sounds and rock bands of the day, until a friend, Tom Moore, introduced him to the Junior Wells and Buddy Guy classic “Hoodoo Man Blues.” Together they formed Fat John & the 3 Slims, which is still regarded as a legendary band in the Boise region. John played harp and sang in local bands, often opening the show for nationally touring blues acts and quickly caught the ear of established blues musicians. It didn’t take long before he was releasing his own recordings, “The Jack Of Harps” (2002) and “Come And Get It” (2004), featuring Junior Watson, and performing in Junior Watson’s band. John relocated to San Francisco in 2004, where he had the bitter-sweet good fortune to undertake a two-year stint with Anson Funderburgh and the Rockets, filling in for the ailing Sam Myers. Németh immersed himself in the deep musical waters of the Bay area, absorbing more of the soul and funk grooves of what he calls “the early East Bay Grease sound” of San Francisco and Oakland bands. John’s talents did not go unnoticed and he soon signed a recording contract with Blind Pig Records. His national debut for that label, “Magic Touch” (2007), produced by Anson Funderburgh and featuring Junior Watson on guitar, received an ecstatic response from fans and the media, and he was hailed as the new voice of the blues. Living Blues enthused, “Magic Touch gives hope that the blues will survive.” In 2008 Németh was recruited by Elvin Bishop to do some performances and contribute four vocal tracks to his Grammy-nominated album “The Blues Rolls On.”Németh released two more albums on the Blind Pig label, “Love Me Tonight” (2009) & “Name The Day (2010), both hitting #6 on the Billboard Blues Chart, and beginning his long string of Blues Music Award (BMA) nominations, numbering 20 at last count. John has also won two Blues Blast Music Awards – Best New Artist Debut Recording and Sean Costello Rising Star Award. John followed up with two independently released live albums in 2012, “Blues Live” and “Soul Live.” In 2013 John relocated to Memphis, Tennessee, where he teamed up with producer Scott Bomar and his classic Memphis Soul band, the Bo-Keys, to create an album of revisited soul classics, “Memphis Grease” (2014 Blue Corn), which debuted at #4 on the Billboard Blues Chart. John won the 2104 BMA for Best Soul Blues Male Artist, followed by “Memphis Grease” winning Best Soul Blues Album in 2015.
In 2017 Németh released “Feelin’ Freaky” (produced by Luther Dickinson) on his own Memphis Grease label, crushing all barriers of style and genre with an album of original songs that defied all the usual pigeonholes, drawing from his strong influences in blues and R&B, as well as contemporary sounds in hip hop and rock ‘n’ roll. Later that same year, Németh was part of a side project “The Love Light Orchestra Featuring John Németh” recorded live at one of Memphis’ favorite watering holes, Bar DKDC. The 10-piece band was initially envisioned by guitarist Joe Restivo, vocalist John Németh and arranger/trumpeter Marc Franklin. Németh returned to Electraphonic in December of 2019 with his seasoned road band of young gun players, The Blue Dreamers, featuring 19 year-old guitar phenom from Philadelphia, Jon Hay, drummer Danny Banks and Matt Wilson on bass for a rowdy southern swamp roots session resulting in his 10th album, “Stronger Than Strong” demonstrating, yet again, his uncanny ability to skillfully blend retro and modern blues and soul into compelling music that is simultaneously old and new.” (https://johnnemeth.com/bio) I am unable to find a new song on this new release.
Demetria Taylor – Doin’ What I’m Supposed To Do (Delmark): “Demetria Taylor was born to sing the blues as she is the daughter of the legendary Chicago blues guitarist Eddie Taylor! The songs on Doin’ What I’m Supposed To Do are a balance of traditional blues and modern R&B, with some written by her family, some by fellow musicians Mike Wheeler and Larry Williams, one by the venerable Magic Sam, and two by Demetria herself. Demetria Taylor was born to sing the blues as she is the daughter of the legendary Chicago blues guitarist Eddie Taylor! The songs on Doin’ What I’m Supposed To Do are a balance of traditional blues and modern R&B, with some written by her family, some by fellow musicians Mike Wheeler and Larry Williams, one by the venerable Magic Sam, and two by Demetria herself.” This is the real thing … ready to rock and burn the house down! Listen to Miss Taylor!
XThe Jimmie Vaughan Story – The Jimmie Vaughan Story (Last): “When it comes to the blues today, there are a handful of guiding lights to make sure the music stays true to its powerful source. The sound of pleasure and pain that first sparked musicians to create such a sound is a force that can never be underestimated. The mojo has to be there. For Jimmie Vaughan, he’s dedicated his life to making sure the blues not only stays alive, but remains full of life and an inspiration to all who listen. It’s a spirit he holds close to him, and for over 50 years of holding the blues close inside him, Vaughan isn’t about to stop now.
Jimmie Vaughan’s new album, BABY, PLEASE COME HOME, is a rolling and righteous celebration of everything the blues can be. The songs can go up, down, sideways and even off in their own distinctive direction, but one thing is certain, each and every one of them is packed with pure feeling and striking originality. That’s because while the blues is almost as old as America itself, every time a musician lends their soul to living inside these songs, something new comes out. There is a constant reinvention for musicians like Vaughan, because the blues demands it. There can be nothing less than a revelation, because that’s how the music stays alive. It is almost like an alchemy exists, where instruments and voice join together to make a joyful noise. And above all else the blues, in the capable of hands of Vaughan and his musical cohorts, is a path to salvation. One that is birthed in the ability of songs to make life on earth a better place to be. Sometimes it takes decades to finally arrive at a place called home. When a young player starts out as a teenager to find a spot to call his own, there can be enough twists and turns to throw even the most dedicated of souls off the mark. Life can be a tricky endeavor, and between the bright lights and the dark nights, that road ahead can be full of false starts and deceiving roadblocks. But on BABY, PLEASE COME HOME Jimmie Vaughan proves without doubt all his efforts and energy have taken him to the promised land. Maybe that’s because blues is really the art of distillation, seeking the sound where there are no extraneous notes, or unnecessary additions to the feeling of freedom. It takes years to get there, and patience is most definitely a virtue. Above all else, feeling is the most important element of all. With that, all else can be conquered.
“Playing what you feel has always been my main goal,” Vaughan says. Considering the Texas guitarist and singer has had the kind of career that makes him a living legacy, those are no idle words. His first group when he was starting high school played Dallas’ Hob Knob Lounge six nights a week, learning the kind of lessons that can’t be taught. They have to be lived. Other bands in the ’60s convinced the young man it was time to find a way to play the music he felt the strongest about: the blues, That took him to hitchhiking to Austin in the early ’70s and carving out a new crew of blues players who shared his musical excitement. Jimmie Vaughan started in the lead, and has remained there. After worldwide success with the Fabulous Thunderbirds during the ’80s, it came time to leave that band and build his own path in exploring different approaches to the blues. He did not hesitate. And what Vaughan discovered was that he could take it anywhere; there were no boundaries. “I wanted to find out what I could really do,” he says, “and when I started singing it gave me a whole new side to explore. When I was young I didn’t really pay much attention to categories of music. I just heard what I liked and decided to explore that. And that’s really what I’m still doing.” For the past few years, Jimmie Vaughan has been recording a series of albums dedicated to the songs he’s always held in high esteem, recorded by artists that inspired him from his very earliest days of performing. The sessions have been held in studios near Austin, and he was surrounded by fellow musicians who understand that music is intended to ignite the heart and fill the soul. There can be no shortcuts or sleight-of-hand when playing these songs. They come from writers and performers who responsible for so much of modern popular musics, some well known but many are other who are still names not known outside the blues world. On BABY, PLEASE COME HOME, some of those original artists are Lloyd Price, Jimmy Donley, Lefty Frizell, Richard Berry, Chuck Willis, Bill Doggett, T-Bone Walker, Etta James, Fats Domino, Gatemouth Brown and Jimmy Reed. In so many ways, this is a list of some of the prime purveyors of America’s greatest music. That it can range from seminal bluesmen like Jimmy Reed to one of the founding father of modern country music Lefty Frizell proves the point that Vaughan has always believed: music is not about what it is labeled, but rather how it makes the listener feel. On BABY, PLEASE COME HOME, those feelings are played to the hilt by some of Jimmie Vaughan’s long-standing A-team, including George Rains, Billy Pitman, Ronnie James, Mike Flanigin, Doug James, Greg Piccolo, Al Gomez, Kaz Kazonoff, T. Jarred Bonta, John Mills and Randy Zimmerman. They are joined by guest vocalists Georgia Bramhall and Emily Gimble. These sessions, mostly held at San Marcos, Texas’ Fire Station studio, were the kind of recordings that are based on musicians who have been playing this music for decades. They’ve come to have a near-silent style of communication, where a look or a smile communicates much more than words ever could. As bandleader, singer and guitarist, Jimmie Vaughan is a master of how everything is captured for posterity. His singing voice has grown into a study in strength. And while sometimes he might say, “Sometimes you can sing and sometimes you can’t,” like everything else the Texan touches, Vaughan knows when it’s right and never stops until it is. He has always looked to his soul as the ultimate barometer of when the music is right, and when that is satisfied Vaughan knows he has found that spot where the music is ready to be shared.
The Rolling Stones’ Keith Richards once said, “The blues. It’s probably the most important thing America has ever given the world.” To which Jimmie Vaughan would likely add, “Amen.” Here’s a sample! https://www.deezer.com/us/album/305992227
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