The things I've heard about John Carey seem to all have a common theme. He's not only the glue that hold the blues scene together in New Orleans, he's also the main reason there's a blues scene at all. I guess you might say that in the Crescent City, he's to blues what gumbo is to food. On the other hand, Piano Bob is well known for his barrelhouse and boogie woogie piano playing with an emphasis on the New Orleans style. It's no wonder these two fine musicians are a natural together.
On "Back In New Orleans" John Carey sings lead and background vocals, plays electric and acoustic rhythm guitars, percussion and did most of the song arrangements. Piano Bob, of course, plays the Grand piano and also arranged several of the songs. The rest of the band consists of: John Fohl on lead & rhythm guitar; Sean Carey on bass, background vocals, percussion & harmonica; Willy Panker on drums; Jimmy Carpenter on baritone and tenor sax & horn arrangements; and Eric Ensminger on trumpet & trombone. Additional special guests include: Tim Stanbaugh on percussion (8); Eric Lindell on lead guitar & vocals (9); Jumpin' Johnny Sansone on accordion (14); and Marc Stone on steel guitar (11). Now let's go have a listen to several of the fifteen original tracks.
If you've ever been there, the opening and title track will have you feelin' like you're "Back In New Orleans". Bob's opening piano intro sounds like something you'd hear coming from one of the many back alleys or courtyards adjacent to the juke joints in and around the French Quarter. Then once Jimmy starts wailing on the sax with the rhythm kicking in, and the two Johns jump in on vocals and guitar, it's all out N'awlins blues in full swing.
There's nothing like a slow, soulful ballad to showcase a vocalists talents. "Spirit Inside Of Me" is just that song, and it's highlighted by John singing his heart out. This is an absolutely beautiful song, absolutely beautifully sung.
Although his union dues are paid, John's still got a case of the "Union Man Blues". This one's got all the elements that make up a smokin' shuffle. Sean and Willy got the toe tappin' rhythm going on, John's got the harp hoppin' and Bob's got the keys kickin'. Real good stuff.
Other than the wonderfully quiet rhythm and the whispering harmonic background vocals, this one's all about the lead vocals and the guitars. Their delicate blend come together to create an incredible listening experience. This one's definitely made for "Slow Dancin'" with your baby. Another beautifully written and performed song.
"Gipsy Woman Blues" is my kind of stuff - slow, lowdown, dirty blues. You know the kind I mean....played in adagio tempo with scorching guitar riffs, piercing harmonica chords, the tickling of those keys way down the end of the piano and gut wrenching, emotional and soulful vocals. By far the disc's best track and much to my delight - at well over six minutes - the longest as well.
There's one dance that just about everyone, even the wall flowers, enjoy doing - that's "The Box Spring Boogie". You know it....it's the one where the headboard's usually providing the rhythm. Well, this one's got some hot rhythm of it's own with lots of help from the piano and the horns, and great harp and guitar leads. This one's a smoker.
"Father and Son", features a harmonica blow off between the senior Carey - John and the junior Carey - Sean. It's fast, it's hot and it's one hell of a harmonica zydeco hoe-down.
Other tracks on "Back In New Orleans" include: "Parade Of Injustice", "Soul Surgeon", "Doin' The Big Easy", "Boathouse Blues", "Rock-A-Bye-Baby", "The Storm", Ride The Train" and "Desier`ee".
You can visit John Carey and Piano Bob at their individual websites - www.satchmo.com/johncareymusic and www.pianobob.net. At either site you'll be able to purchase a copy of the disc and tell both of them that the Blewzzman sent you.
Unlike his prior releases, which featured at least a dozen of his usual suspects as band mates, Tommy Lee Cook seems to have shown a bit of a versatile approach to his music on "Outside Looking In", his newest release. On this project it's just Tommy on electric and acoustic guitars, Dobro, lead and background vocals and midi-programming; Danny Sheppard on electric guitar, background vocals and midi-programming; and Pat 'Cleanhead" Hayes on harmonica.
The eleven tracks are all originals and contain a lot more ballads, a lot more sensitive lyrics and a lot more soulful and heartfelt vocals than a familiar listener may expect from Tommy...and this familiar listener is loving it all. I'm sure it all had to do with Tommy's frame of mind during a recently rough period in which he lost his good friend and music associate - whom the disc is dedicated to - Hamp Walker.
Proverbs, words of wisdom, expressions, clichés, or whatever one might call them, Tommy's mother taught him them all...and as you'll hear on "What You Gone Do", he obviously remembered them all, as well. Interestingly enough, aside from the vocals, the synthesized programmed parts of this track are it's highlights. I'm swearing that I'm listening to a hell of a rhythm section with a piano and a baritone sax.
"Take A Breath" is a suggestion Tommy's unsuccessfully making to a boring, over talkative, non punctuation using neighbor on the next barstool who claim's that in spite of only being 35 year old, he knew Elvis. Funny, hearing Tommy mention this guy makes me think I met him as well. Cleverly written sarcastic and humorous lyrics are this tracks highlights.
"This Old Flame" is an absolutely beautiful song - vocally, lyrically and musically. The soft rhythm, the light guitar notes and the steady organ background all seem to provide the pulse that drives Tommy's emotional deliverance. Nothing fancy here, just real feelings at work.
This song's probably about a love gone wrong yet I can't help but thinking, that in some subliminal way, it may very well have something to do with the way Tommy's buddy Hamp departed. No warning, no phone call, no goodbye...and from his understanding and sorrowful friends' point of view - there "Ain't No Blame".
It was probably a different day or it may very well have been a different joint, but once again, Tommy finds himself sitting next to another talkative stranger. This one, however, seems to be a bit more interesting as he explains "The Truth About Lies" to Tommy. Sung in a narrative form, the sincerity in the telling of this story makes you want to closely listen.
The disc ends with it's fastest and hottest track - and as Tommy would probably describe it - "It's A Party". On this smoker - which includes the grumbling of motorcycles - the guitars are flailing, the harp is wailing and the programming's gone madly wild.
Other tracks on "Outside Looking In" include: "God's Little Acre", "Grits And Groceries", "Devil On My Shoulder", "She Got The Look", and "Arkansas Dirtweed".
To purchase the disc, and to learn more about Tommy and his Buckingham Blues Bar - located in Fort Myers, FL - just go to www.tommyleecook.com. Please make sure you tell him the Blewzzman says "hey" and that I'm looking forward to seeing him in a few weeks.
After about fifty years in the business, having a very impressive resume and four prior releases, Burton Gaar should, by now, be a familiar name to the members of the blues community. Yet, while admitting this is the first I've heard of him, I'm thinking I may not be alone. That's just the way it is in the music world, especially when your music is the blues. Perhaps "Fried Grits & Greens" can change all that. Let's go help it along by opening a few ears.
On "Fried Grits & Greens", Burton Gaar on the bass and vocals, is joined by: Tom Coerver, Bobby Felsenthal and Larry Turner on keyboards; John Gaar, Tom Coerver and Odell Wilson on guitar; Floyd Saizon on drums; and George Hollinshead on acoustic guitar. The disc contains fifteen all original tracks with nearly an hour of pure listening pleasure.
The opening and title track, "Fried Grits & Greens", is a taste of - as Burton refers to his music - Louisiana born blues at it's best. Oddly, there's no mention of gumbo, but the hot sauce being sung about isn't just adding heat to the fried grits and greens, it's got the band on fire as well. This appetizing dish is rich in rhythm, succulently soulful and delectable to dance to.
Having your wife and your pretty little girlfriend run into each other can't ever be a good thing. As a matter of fact it's nothin' but "Trouble". Right Burton? Outstanding vocals, rhythm and masterful organ playing by Tom all highlight this one.
With Burton and Floyd on top of their game rhythmically "Drowning In The Blues" features some of the discs best bass and drum action. This smoker also features Tom pulling double duty, and he sounds equally outstanding on the organ and guitar. Excellent track.
"Sugarfied" is what you become when your sweet sugar mama's got sugar on the bottom and sugar on the top. On this smooth shuffle, with the band tightly tuned into a nice groove behind him, Burton will tell you all about how it feels when your whole body becomes a sweet tooth.
"Turn Around" is one of those slow ballads that always causes me to turn around to another place and time. It's got that fifties feel that just makes me want to close my eyes and sway my way back to that wonderful era...even if just for a few precious minutes. Very well sung by Burton with a great guitar solo by Tom. Certainly replay worthy.
I'm a sucker for a well sung, heartfelt, melancholic ballad. As a matter of fact, it's often these types of songs I'm talking about when I say things like "this is song of the year material". "That's All She Wrote" is exactly that type of song and exactly that caliber of song. Somewhere back there behind him the band is doing one hell of a job, but it's Burton's soulful and emotional vocals that steal this one.
Other tracks on this outstanding disc include: "Last Train To Memphis", "One Step Away", "Wake Up And Watch Me Leave", "So Over You", "Strung Out On The Blues", "Ain't She A Mess", "One Of Us Is Leaving", "Love Doctor And Nurse" and "Hold It Against You".
To get your copy of "Fried Grits & Gravy", and some of his previous releases as well, along with more information on this talented musician and vocalist, just go to www.burtongaar.com. Please tell him the Blewzzman sent ya.
Over the 20+ years I have been a personal friend of Piano Bob's, I've literally seen him perform hundreds of times. Solo, duet, full band... none of that matters - just put him behind a piano and off he goes. And when he's not performing, he's hanging out in the clubs supporting the musicians who are. Be it on the stage looking out at an audience or in the audience looking up at the stage, there's no doubt about it, Piano Bob loves the music.
On this particular project, Piano Bob Wilder - on the piano, of course - is joined by Lou Abbott on vocals and drums, "Big" Al Ferreira on tenor and baritone sax, Leo Casino on tenor sax, Bob Loiacano on guitar, and Dave Wilkinson & Matt Bonelli on upright bass.
"Big Beat Blues" features twelve covers of some of the best boogie style piano, sing along type dance songs that all have one thing in common... a big beat.
Unquestionably, the opening track is going to make you "Shake, Rattle & Roll". Midway through the song, there's about a minute of an instrumental interlude that absolutely kicks ass. The keys are pounding, the horns are blowin', the rhythm's ripping, the hands are clappin' and it's all sounding oh so good.
Of course, when the band leader's a piano player and the album features music with a big beat, ya know the fat man needs to be represented. No, not me......Fats Domino. On "Blue Monday", a song the fat man made famous, Bob and Lou are excellent on the keys and vocals, and Big Al gets in plenty of deep shots on the baritone.
"Chicken Shack" is a great piano song made famous by two very well know blues pianists - Amos Milburn, the writer, and the late Pinetop Perkins, who just loved to perform it. From the sounds of this smokin' version, Piano Bob's 88s seem to have it down pat as well. The rhythm's intense, the horns are wailing, and Piano Bob's just running away with it on this all out jam. Real good stuff right here.
"Old man rhythm is in my shoes, no use sitting and singing the blues, so be my guest you got nothing to lose, won't you let me take you on a "Sea Cruise". Ooh wee baby....remember that one? Back then it was Frankie Ford who had me singing along to this one, now here I am doing it all over again with the 88s. What a great song... what a great era... what a great rendition. The guys nailed this one.
Up until now most of the tracks I've mentioned have featured the keyboard, the horns, the drums and the bass. On this one, the band must have told the guitar player "You Don't Have To Go". He didn't, and Bob certainly gets in his share of hot licks here.
Other tracks on "Big Beat Blues" - a party, dance and sing along inducing disc - include: "Rock This House", "You Never Can Tell", "Things 'Bout Comin' My Way", "Hey Lawdy Mama", "In The Night", "Sloppy Drunk Blues" and "Let's Rock Awhile".
For a copy of "Big Beat Blues", contact Piano Bob at www.pianobob.net. You'll also be able to pick up his latest CD as well. That one, which I'll be working on soon, is with John Carey and it's called "Back In New Orleans". While there, tell him his buddy the Blewzzman sent you.
By the way, back in 1992, Bob Wilder was part of the band that won what was then called the B.B. King Lucille Award - the predecessor to the IBC. A listen to these discs will clearly tell you why.
Have you ever wondered how certain albums got their titles? Much too often they have nothing to do with the songs and in some cases, make no sense at all. However, on this particular disc, the title is quite apropos..."Rhythm Rockin' Boogie" is just what you're going to hear - and lots of it at that. The CD contains 18 mostly original tracks totaling well over 60 minutes, without 1 dull minute one amongst them.
Midnight Shift consists of; Mike Mettalia on lead vocals and harp; Mike McMillan on guitar, vocals and maracas; Paul Pluta on bass and backup vocals; and Tim Smith on drums, congas and backup vocals. On "Rhythm Rockin' Boogie", the bands second release, they feature special guests Steve Guyger on harmonica, Tommy Conwell and Christopher Dean on guitar, Chicago Carl Snyder and Dan McKinney on keyboards, and Phil Pilorz on slide guitar.
Not featuring any of the guest musicians, the opening track - "Real Good Sign" - is a great introduction to the nucleus of the band. It's a hot shuffle featuring smooth vocals, great guitar leads, tight rhythm, and sharp harp...all performed to perfection.
In addition to being fun, the lyrics on this track are - and as most woman might say, sadly so - quite true as well. It's all about a man's inability to pay attention due to a "Low Cut Blouse". So? The beat coming from Tim's congas will have you wanting to cha-cha-cha during this one. Great piano work from Carl as well.
As long as you're up and dancing, stay there. But first you'd better get your feet out of that cha-cha frame of mind and get them ready to "Tear It Up". This one, screams and all, is flat out wild. Good ol' rockin' rockabilly at it's best.
Catch ya breath yet? You're gonna need it for the title track. "Rhythm Rockin' Boogie" is "faster than a speeding bullet" and Steve's smokin' harp has it sounding "more powerful than a locomotive". Just be careful of those "tall bounds" you'll want to leap while listening. If CD players had a speed setting you'd be looking to see if this one was on 78 by mistake.
Ahhhhhhhhh...one for the slow dancers. This is the one that might get you thinking that "Before This Song Is Over", she's going to know just how much she's turning you on - if you get my drift. Mike and Dan are magical together with their harp and piano tandem and Mike's vocals are absolutely spine chilling. God, I love this kind of good old 50's stuff.
OMG! Here I am, only up to track 7, and I've already had something to say about 5 of them. As I said in the intro..."without 1 dull minute one amongst them".
OK, I gotta speed this up, and here's the track to get me to do just that - another rocket called "Mess Around". With lightning fast rhythm coming from Tim & Paul and lightning fast guitar - this time by Tommy, this one's a race...a frantic one at that.
If you want to rock till you drop, then "Do The 45". This is musical mayhem at it's best. Take it from someone who likes slow, low down dirty blues - this is not it. And yet I'm loving it...excuse me while I hit replay - again. The guys are all over this style of funky, rockin', rhythm filled hybrid blues. Definitely the disc's best with everyone at disc's best. Before I move on, I'm going back for another listen.
OK, there's still a lot of music left, but I gotta end this before the disc totally kicks my fat ass. I think I've made my point - there is one heck of a lot of rhythm rockin' boogie to be heard on..."Rhythm Rockin' Boogie".
The rest of the tracks I'm just too damn exhausted to mention are: "Back To Her Heart", "Mr. Lincoln", "Georgia Slop", "Let It Show", "The Girl From Nogales", "My Destiny", "She Never Would Forget", "The L&N", Crash Into Love", something I always love doing, going "Back To Memphis" and something this band does not know how to do..."Back Off".
Having just recently picked the winner of the 2010 BLEWZZY AWARD, it's a long time till the 2011 crowning. However, if ya wanna win it, this is the disc ya gotta beat.
To find out how to get your hands on a copy of "Rhythm Rockin' Boogie", check Midnight Shift out at www.mnightshift.com and if there was ever a CD you bought just on my recommendation, let it be this one. And don't forget to tell the guys who sent you...the Blewzzman.
We are very pleased to have Reverend Raven and the Chain Smokin' Altar Boys join the ever growing list of repeat performers here at www.Mary4Music.com. It's hard to believe that four years have passed since I first worked with the band on the "Big Bee" album. That's when there were just three altar boys. Since then, the group has grown to eight of the chain smokers.
Recorded live, over two sessions, two different ensembles were used on "Shake Your Boogie". With Reverend Raven, on guitar and vocals, as the constant, the CSAB consisted of: Madison Slim on harmonica and vocals; Big Al Groth on saxophone; Bobby Lee Sellers Jr and Spencer Panosh on drums; PT Pederson and Andre Maritato on bass; and Mickey Larson and Danny Moore on piano & organ. Additionally, Benny Rickum and Bill Stace performed background vocals on one track.
"Stomping and Shouting" are just a few of the motions this one will have you doin'. I'm sure tappin' (foot), snappin' (fingers), bobbin' (head) and swayin' (body) will be others. This one's your typical lock all the players into one hell of a hot groove and let your front men loose kind of track. The Reverend and the big guy are masterful on slide guitar and saxophone.
It was only three seconds into this track and I already knew it would make my highlights list. Those opening scorching blues guitar notes immediately had me. Then in came Big Al's deep, sultry sax sound followed by the Reverend belting the hell out some blues and I knew I was listening to an amazingly well done version of Little Milton's "Just Count The Days". This may very well have been the best six minutes of my day today. The blues just doesn't get any better than this.
If low down dirty blues is your blues of choice, then one of several originals - "I Can Do You Right" - will certainly do just that. In between two slow and soulful vocal verses, Big Al - easily at discs best on sax - performs a virtual two and a half minute tutorial on the instrument.
I don't know what the dish is but I promise you that whatever it is "PT's Home Cooking" will be served hot. The ingredients for this instrumentally delicious dish include portions of sizzlin' sax by Big Al, doses of tasty piano by Danny, plenty of smokin' rhythm from Bobby and PT, and finger lickin' guitar leads by the Reverend. You'll definitely want more than one serving of this one - I'm already on my fourth. Phenomenal work right here.
If you're planning on "Walking To Chicago", do it while listening to this track - you'll get there faster. This is one of those hard drivin', keep on truckin' type songs that you just want to move fast to. After all, that's what all the musicians are doing.
"Shake Your Boogie" will surely get your booty shakin'. That will be partly due to the unrestrained rhythm Spencer and Andre are putting out on drums and bass, the frolicsome piano being played by Mickey, the wailful harp blowin' from Madison and the torrid guitar licks from the Reverend. If this one didn't get you moving, call a doctor - quick.
Other tracks on "Shake Your Boogie" include: "Looking For Love", "You Didn't Even Say Goodbye", "She's Murder", "Bricks In My Pillow", "Like Wolf", "The Woman I Love", and "Mailbox Blues".
In a statement I read on the one sheet accompanying the disc, my good friend Bobby "Bluesbobby" Weinberg is quoted as saying the music of Reverend Raven and the Chain Smoking Altar Boys is "Blues the way it was meant to be played and blues the way it was meant to be heard". I couldn't agree more.
To learn more about Reverend Raven and the CSAB check them out at www.reverendraven.com. Be sure to tell them the Blewzzman sent ya.
It's great to be hearing Donald Ray Johnson again. I loved the last CD he sent me so much that I awarded "Pure Pleasure" the 2008 BLEWZZY AWARD. Now he's back with another contender - "It's Time". The many musical contributors are: Donald Ray Johnson on vocals, background vocals and drums; George Phillips, Bill Eaglesham and Brent Wright on bass; Ralph Moncivais on tenor & alto sax solos; Ron Casat, Mike Little and Earl McCauley on keyboards; Alistair Elliot on trumpet; Mike Clark on sax; Dave Reed on trombone; Kent McCray on drums; Mike Huston, Brent Wright, Gaspard Ossekian, Russell Broom, Bill Johnson and Yuji Ihara on guitar; and Chris Aries on background vocals.
The disc opens with a smokin' shuffle called "These Blues", one of Donald's originals. It's not just hot, it's a three alarmer. Backed up by prominent rhythm coming from Kent, Bill E. and Ron on the drums, bass and organ - not one, not two, but three guitarists provide some rhythm of their own. Fueling the fire are great guitar and sax leads by Gespard and Ralph. We're off to a real good start here.
"It's Time" is not only the title track but it's also a statement I'm going to say a little more about later. This original features Donald doing what he does best - expertly singing his heart out with emotion filled vocals. On this one, Russell is responsible for the great guitar leads.
Paying tribute to his close friend of forty years, Donald does a great job on a song made popular by the late Phillip Walker - "Working Girl Blues". Great guitar and organ leads by Bill J. and Ron.
Many politicians have said it, but when you hear the heartfelt way in which Donald sings it, it seems a lot easier to believe that a "Change Is Gonna Come". Of course they're all speaking materially while Donald's speaking spiritually. Having hymnal qualities, this type of song is perfect for Donald's style and voice. The background vocals and alto sax solo fit just right.
"Watching You" is another hot one. It features Yuji Ihara at disc's best on guitar solos and Kent McCray teaming up with George Phillips on bass for the disc's best rhythm. That, along with the full horn section helping out, make this the disc's best track musically.
With the band softly providing him with smooth background music, Donald shines on this one. His version of a "Rainy Night In Georgia" may actually be better than the original. His voice is so powerful, so soulful, so smooth, so emotional and so very articulate. Oh my God, can this man sing! This review will be long done and I'll still be hitting replay on this one. Great stuff Donald.
Other tracks on "It's Time" include: "Heavy Love", "Girl Friend Blues", "Ain't No Fun To Me", and "Louisiana Country Girl".
I don't know the reason why Donald Ray Johnson named this CD "It's Time", and from the tracks lyrics, there doesn't seem to be any relation to what I'm about to say. However, the way I see it, it's time this Grammy Award winning artist gets some recognition in the blues community. It's time to start seeing him on the bill at blues festivals and it's time to start seeing his name on some Blues Music Award ballots.
To discover what I've already discovered about this great bluesman you need to go to www.donaldray.com. Read his bio, buy his CD and tell him the Blewzzman didn't send you there, he chased you there.
Over four years ago, while writing about her last release- "Watch Me Work It" - this young and very talented artist blew me away with her beautiful looks, her beautiful voice and her beautiful songwriting. Now here she is doing it all over again.
Taking into consideration that this disc was originally released in 2008 and that the album has won her the 2009 Australian Female Blues Artist of the Year, 2009 Best Self Produced Blues CD, 2009 Vic/Tas Female Blues Artist of the Year and was nominated for three Australian Blues Music Awards, there's a very good chance you've already heard Andrea Marr's "Little Sister Got Soul". If not, you really need to.
Already a contender as the Australian Queen of the Blues, "Little Sister Got Soul" -her first release in the United States - should surely get her the broader recognition she truly deserves. The disc features ten songs of which 7 are originals. Joining Andrea, on the lead vocals, are: Greg Dodd on guitar; Clint Healy on bass; Dean Matters on drums; Cam Scott on keyboards & Hammond Organ; Sean Vagg and Paul Williamson on saxophone; Shane Hughes on trumpet; Dave Palmer on trombone; Rudy Tadros, Jeke Terei, Edith Borradale and Camel Sundaram on backup vocals; and Jerome Phillips on voiceover.
There's probably not a man alive who wouldn't indulge, as Andrea says; I want to "Steam Up The Windows" with you...especially after hearing how seductively sultry she sounds saying it. Steaming things up in his own way is Sean on the sax solos. "I Prefer You" is a tribute to men of little means but lots of character. It doesn't matter to Andrea how rich and handsome one may be, it's his standards that matter to her. Clint and Dean will be the one's you'll be grooving to on this rhythm filled track.
You'll know exactly how much soul this little sister has once you listen to this one. Gut wrenching vocals, downright raunchy piano playing and blistering guitar licks highlight this all out blues burner. "If I Leave This World Tomorrow" is by far the disc's best track.
On this funky number Andrea sounds real happy to have herself a "Real Good Man". As a matter of fact, she's got a bunch of them right here. Several are pumpin' out some smokin' rhythm and others are blowin' the hell out of horns. There will be no sittin' still here.
"Baby Got Me Crazy", may just make you crazy. Andrea can, and will, do that. You see, on this track she describes the way her baby drives her crazy. Those eyes, those lips, the touch of his fingertips, the way he makes her shiver and the way he makes her shake are all doing it to her. Likewise, the sexy and sultry way she sings it were doing it for me. Great song, great vocals, great keyboards and great guitar.
Other tracks on this CD that's titled "Little Sister Got Soul", but could have easily been titled "Little Sister Got Blues", "Little Sister Got Rhythm", or "Little Sister Got It All" include: "Soulsville", "Don't Touch What You Can't Afford", "Superwoman", "Taught Me To Live", and "What's Wrong With You".
You can check out Andrea Marr by going to www.andreamarr.com. And don't just look at the pictures - buy the disc and tell her the Blewzzman sent ya.
Have you ever taken a look at the list of the "50 Greatest Female Jazz Vocalists"? I have, and it's quite a revered list of ladies. However, with Ella, Billie, Sarah and Dinah being 1, 2, 3, & 4 and Diane Schuur, Etta James, Irene Reid, Ruth Brown and other names familiar to us blues lovers filling out the list, I think the list should be re-named the 50 Greatest Female Jazz And Blues Singers. Amen to that!
Now I'm not saying that Beverly Lewis is ready for the top 50 list just yet, but she's surely an excellent female jazz singer who can belt out the blues. That's exactly what you'll hear her doing on her latest CD titled "All Shades Of Blues". Backing her up musically are John Fifield on guitars, Gabriel Vivas on electric & acoustic bass, Goran Rista and Lee Levin on drums, Paul Banman and Doug Emery on keyboards, Sammy Figueroa on percussion, Randy Singer on harmonica, Teddy Mulet on brass, David Fernandez on reeds, and Gabe Vales on electric bass. BTW, should you be wondering where you heard some of those names before, think Blood, Sweat and Tears, The Miami Sound Machine and Yanni.
From a strictly musical viewpoint, the "Every Day I Have The Blues" / "Fine And Mellow" medley was most enjoyable listening. On this particular track the band is in such a smooth, jazzy groove with each instrument involved sounding so wonderfully sharp. Now, throw Beverly into the mix and WOW!
Being one of the more popular standards, there probably aren't many ladies of song that don't have "Since I Fell For You" in their repertoire. But it's not how many who sing it, it's how many who sing it this beautifully that matters. Equally as beautiful is Randy's harmonica playing.
More often than not, jazz singers tend to stick to the standards...particularly ballads. Yet, every once in a while you'll hear them belt out a smoker - "It's Love Baby" (24 Hours A Day) that's Beverly's smoker and man is she belting it out. That, along with fiery hot rhythm, scorching guitar and wicked harp, by far make this the deepest shade of all the shades of blues
Just as I was thinking that "Mad About Him, Sad Without Him Blues", was about to end, the song - much like the title - makes a radical change in attitude. This one starts out as a mellow, low-toned, sultry sounding ballad, then BAM! out of nowhere it all gets louder, faster and furious. Imagine the look on the slow dancers faces. Musically this one's highlighted by Bev's vocals and Ted's trumpet.
The best track on the CD could very well be "Love Me Like A Man". The opening forty five seconds features such a deep, heavy rhythm and scorching guitar riffs that Gabriel, Goran and John - on bass, drums and guitar - had me wishing this was an instrumental...until Beverly started singing. The strength of her voice, the way she holds her notes and her wide vocal range all blew me away on this one.
The disc closes with one of the shortest, and one of the most unique tracks these ears have ever heard. It's also the only time I ever recall seeing a dog being given composer credits. Being the only original, it was written by Beverly, her husband John Fifield and their dog Scarlet - who sings on the track as well. As John picks a few short chords on an acoustic guitar, Beverly instructs Scarlet to "sing the blues baby" and the dog, right on time and right on key as well, starts "Howlin' The Blues". Very cute.
Other tracks on "All Shades Of Blues" include: "Someone Else Is Steppin' In", "Mercy, Mercy, Mercy", "The Jealous Kind" and "All Blues".
Beverly Lewis can be reached at - you guessed it - www.beverlylewis.net. Stop by, grab a disc, read her storied bio and of course, tell her the Blewzzman sent ya.