Looking for some great Big Band Blues Music? Look no further, I just found it for you. "BIG BAND BLUES", by SWINGADELIC is loaded with it. After just one listen you'll be spit shinin' the old Patent Leather Shoes, pressing the old Zoot Suit and practicing some of those old moves you used to dazzle the dames with at the local swing joints.
"BIG BAND BLUES" is the third CD released by the New York Metropolitan areas "Biggest Little Swing Band" - SWINGADELIC, and it is the second one that this writer has had the privilege to review.
The talented bunch, and I do mean bunch, of musicians that make up the 2006 version of SWINGADELIC are: FAUSTO BOZZA, guitar and vocals; JOHN MARTIN, baritone sax; NEIL PAWLEY, trombone and vocals; JOHN BAUERS, Piano and Vocals; BUDDY TERRY, Alto Sax and Vocals; ALBERT LEUSINK, Trumpet; ROB SUSMAN, Trombone; DAVE POST, Bass; DAN ALVARO, Tenor Sax; CARLOS FRANCIS, Trumpet; PAUL PIZZUTI, Drums; TOM "T-BONE" STINSON, Organ; LES ROGERS, Trumpet; JASON PHARR, Drums; RONNIE RAUSO, Guitar; ANDY RIEDER, Guitar.
The opening track, "DOWN HOME GIRL", features FAUSTO at his finest on vocals. It's a soft, slow number which he finessed to perfection. Of course, as on all tracks, the horn section is superb, with JOHN excelling on Baritone Sax on this one.
"DON'T DO IT", pumps it up a few notches. This is a hot one with the horn section jumping. NEAL and DAN are the top dogs on this one. NEAL'S baritone vocals are perfect for this tempo and DAN tears it up on tenor solos.
"I WANT A LITTLE GIRL" is one of those songs where even the wall flowers become John Travoltas and head to dance floor. Of course once they get there they don't do anything but stand and sway, but what the hell, this one's all about the romantic moment anyway. This one's all JOHN - on the vocals as well as on the piano.
"GONNA BUILD ME A PLAYHOUSE" was one of my particular, personal, favorites. This one's full of da blues. With his scorching vocals and guitar licks, FAUSTO makes this one sound like Big Band Chicago Blues. The whole horn section and TOM'S organ make the whole thing come together. This is a hot one.
"CASTLE ROCK" is the kind of tune that I'm sure SWINGADELIC uses to introduce the individual band members at a live show, it's an instrumental that features everyone - at their finest.
If a little bit of Dixieland Blues puts a smile on your face then you like "HAPPY LAND". Hmmmm, that even sounds like another name for New Orleans, which this song will no doubt make come to your mind. Hopefully that city will once again return to a happy land.
"WAY BACK BLUES" is such an appropriate title for the closing song on "BIG BAND BLUES". That's exactly what this disc is all about, Big Band blues, with a sound from way back.
Once again SWINGADELIC comes through with another outstanding product. With a little bit of luck, maybe someday we can refer to this band as the Nations "Biggest Little Swing Band" instead of the New York Metropolitan areas "Biggest Little Swing Band". In this writers' eyes and ears, the talent warrants the title.
You can visit Swingadelic on the Web at: www.swingadelic.com/
Make no mistakes about it, despite their off beat name, their extremely humorous style of writing, and their whole aloof attitude the DIDDLEY SQUAT BLUES BAND is a serious bunch of very talented musicians. "MILK OF AMNESIA" is a collection of 11 very funny, uniquely interesting and slightly bizarre originals that are perfectly performed.
The Diddley's, or the Squatters if you will, consist of: JIM COBB on Guitar, Resonator, Harmonica and Vocals; RODNEY BEAL on Bass Guitar; MORRIS ELDRIDGE on Drums; RICK SIMS on Alto, Tenor and Baritone Sax and Kazoo & Jug.
The title track "MILK OF AMNESIA" is a riot. It's about drinking a little, or in this case a lot too much tequila - which by the way is what the drinker refers to as the 'milk of amnesia'. Watch your woofers on this one - there's some serious baritone being blown out by RICK.
"MAN OF COLOR" is a wonderfully clever song. It's about a man who claims he is a person of color, but it's not his race that has anything to do with it - it's due to the fact that he turns red when he's hot, green when he's sick and blue when he's cold. There is a lot of great guitar pickin' from JIM on this one.
It's no secret who he's singin' to on "REASON FOR THE BLUES". This one is a real soft and sultry and features lots of good alto sax by Rich and nice brush/cymbal work from Morris.
Another very clever song, with lyrics that are unfortunately becoming way to true, is "$30 A MAN BLUES BAND". It's about a band who quits their day job to travel from bar to bar playing in front of drunks making requests - all for $30 a man.
"YOU DON'T KNOW DIDDLEY SQUAT" is one of the hottest tracks, musically. Everyone's in the pocket on this hot jam. RODNEY and MORRIS are profound on the bass and the bass drum with RICK tearing up the tenor sax.
"OCD BLUES" is by far the bluesiest track of the lot. Jim gets in some serious blues licks on Guitar and Harmonica and really belts out some good old blues on vocals. Rick also supplies an abundance of sultry sounding blues on the Tenor Sax. This may very well be the best track on the disc.
So the next time some one says to you "you don't know diddley squat", you can beg to differ with them. Just tell them that indeed you do and that DIDDLEY SQUAT happens to be an excellent blues band from Texas that is, although different is style, very reminiscent to Little Charlie and the Nightcats.
You can visit Diddley Squat on the Web at: www.dsquat.com/
I guess being blown away by DANNY BROOKS & THE ROCKIN' REVELATORS is becoming an annual thing. They did it to me last year with "SOULED OUT 'N' SANCTIFIED" and once again this year with "ROCK THIS HOUSE".
The Revelators, enough of them you could also call them a congregation, are: DANNY BROOKS on Lead Vocals, Acoustic Guitar & Harmonica; DENNIS PINHORN on Bass; BUCKY BERGER on Drums; RICHARD BELL on B3, Piano, Wirlitzur & Horn Arrangements; PAPA JOHN KING & TEDDY LEONARD on Guitar; ED ZANKOWSKI & PAUL COUSEE on Saxophones; JOE ALLEN on Trumpet; GARY CRAIG on Percussion; DOUG ROMANOW on Synthesizer & Accordion; With JOHN KAYS, STEVE AMBROSE, HIRAM HOSEPH, AMOY LEVY & JULIA CHURCHILL on Vocals.
The thirteen tracks on "ROCK THIS HOUSE" are all DANNY BROOKS originals and they are his signature mix of Rockin', Soulful, Spiritual, Gospel and Blues boogies, ballads, shuffles and hymns. I will now take on the unenviable task of naming just a few of my favorites.
"ROCK THIS HOUSE" explodes open with "CAN'T KEEP A GOOD MAN DOWN FOR LONG". Although it is not the title track, this one indeed rocks the house. Everyone's at the top of their game here. The background singers are hot, the rhythm section is smoking and the piano player is setting off the sprinkler system - whoa! It's tracks like this you wish you could see done live.
"HOLD ON" is a soulful, sixties sounding ballad that also makes reference to several singers and songs of the era. This one would even have Sam Cooke smilin' and swayin'. Danny, as he does on just about every song, sings his heart out on this one. The songs he writes are so compatible to his powerful and soulful voice. One of many tracks with excellent background vocals as well.
The title track, "ROCK THIS HOUSE" should really be called "ROCK THIS HOUSE, AGAIN", 'cause as I said, the opening track already did that and this one takes over right where that one left off. This time however, it's the B3 that RICHARD BELL'S beating up on.
"NEVER GO WRONG DOING RIGHT" is a shuffle that features some of BUCKY BERGER's best drum work. It's also one of the tracks that features some elusive blues guitar licks.
Unfortunately, due to self production and small budgets, this is one of those CD's that may not reach the masses.....to that I can only say "what a shame, everyone should get to hear this one"
You can visit Danny Brooks on the Web at: www.dannybrooksmusic.com/
If you don't have a copy of THE MANNISH BOYS latest release, titled "LIVE & IN DEMAND", then immediately after reading this review you need to re-write that letter you just mailed to Santa Claus and tell him you forgot to put a very important item on your list.
With all due respect to many "All-Star" blues ensembles and the various "Tribute-Bands" that have, over the years, assembled phenomenal personal to perform as one unit, not since the 1969 gathering of Willie Dixon, Sunnyland Slim, Big "Shakey" Walter Horton, Johnny Shines and Clifton James - who collectively known as THE CHICAGO BLUES ALL STARS - recorded "LOADED WITH THE BLUES", have I seen such a wealth of talent in one blues band.
Having said that, allow me to now introduce you to the all stars that make up this discs version of the MANNISH BOYS: FINIS TASBY, vocals; JOHNNY DYER, vocals and harmonica; DAVID "KID" RAMOS, guitar; FRANCK "PARIS SLIM" GOLDWASSER, guitar; LEON BLUE, piano; TOM LEAVEY, bass; RICHARD INNES, drums; and RANDY CHORTKOFF, who besides being on vocals and harmonica, is the discs Producer, the bands Founder and the head of Delta Groove.
If reading those names made you think of James Harman, the Fabulous Thunderbirds, Hollywood Fats, T-Bone Walker, Jimmy Reed, Lightnin' Hopkins, Albert Collins, Albert King, Bobby "Blue" Bland, Lowell Fulson, Big Mama Thorton, Joe Turner, Billy Boy Arnold, Otis Rush, Homesick James, Jimmy Dawkins and dozens more, it because they are just a few of THE MANNISH BOYS former co-workers.
Attempting to list the highlights on "LIVE & IN DEMAND" would literally mean saying something about every track. However, in the best interest of a review that's reasonable in length, I'll do my best to just touch on a few......or more.
The CD opens with a hot number called "KID'S JUMP". It's your basic three piece instrumental, but then again there's nothing basic when KID'S on guitar, TOM'S on bass and RICHARD'S on drums. This one, as you'd expect, features lots of that fast played, west coast flare that KID'S famous for.
"I'M READY", is another smoker. With the rhythm cats tightly locked into a smooth groove, RANDY - the CEO himself - tears it up on vocals and harmonica. This one features lots of that wonderfully high pitched, and sharply pointed harmonica notes that my personal favorite harp player, Jimmy Reed made famous.
Although I wasn't there, I'd still be willing to bet that on July 17th, at the Winthrop Rhythm & Blues Festival, when the next track was recorded, there was not a still body within earshot of the stage. This track even had me doing the chair-cha-cha. It's all about LEON on this one. His dynamic vocals and brilliant piano playing are surely the highlights on "SHE WANTS TO SELL YOUR MONKEY".
An all too short version of "YOU'RE SWEET" features JOHNNY D. on vocals and harp. Just as he's getting into it the track seems to end. Fear not, he's on several more.
The next six tracks feature THE MANNISH BOYS main man - FINIS TASBY on vocals. He kicks it off with "GOIN' CRAZY OVER TV". This is another one that must have made the dancers happy. FINIS, with his very fine vocals, and RANDY, with his "Reed-like" harp steal the show on this one.
"IT'S TOO BAD" is low down, slow burning Chicago blues at it's best. With LEON leading the rhythm section precisely to the right place, FINIS' vocals - along with the two guitars setting the pace, are this tracks highlight.
"AS THE YEARS GO PASSING BY" is unquestionably, according to this listeners ears, the best track of the lot. On this slow, soulful ballad, FINIS is at his finest. Of course the guitar work of KID and FRANCK is, quite frankly, phenomenal.
In addition to keeping your eyes out for THE MANNISH BOYS, who are a world wide touring act, make sure you keep your eyes on this record label as well. Considering they are the relatively new kid on the block, a sampling of some of the top products that DELTA GROOVE has already released are: Rod Piazza & The Mighty Flyers - "For The Chosen who", Mitch Kashmar with Jr. Watson - "Nickels & Dimes", The Hollywood Blue Flames (original Hollywood Fats Band) - "SOUL SANCTUARY" and Kirk Fletcher's "Shades of Blue".
You can visit The Mannish Boys on the web at: www.themannishboys.com/ and Delta Groove Productions at: www.deltagrooveproductions.com/
As the saying goes, "there's a silver lining in every cloud". This time however, that silver lining was in a hurricane. Due to hurricane Wilma, this review is about four weeks behind schedule and for that I must apologize - Sorry Rich. On the other hand, as a result of the delay I was afforded an opportunity to read an interview between RICH DELGROSSO and one of my favorite people in the blues world, my associate at BluesWax, BOB MARGOLIN.
Not only did the interview give me a bit more knowledge on RICH and the mandolin, but it brought back a memory of one of the coolest blues moments I have ever experienced. A few years back I was one of just a very small crowd that caught an acoustic set performed by RICH DELGROSSO, BOB MARGOLIN, HUBERT SUMLIN and CAREY BELL. It was at the Ft. Lauderdale Blues Festival, the set took place in the middle of the afternoon at one of those 'back alley' acoustic stages that 98% of the festival goers (usually myself included) never seem to attend. The performance was absolutely outstanding, but it went so much deeper than that. Hanging out with these four bluesmen as they told stories, talked with the crowd, and kidded each other like they were sitting in one of their own backyards, was truly an experience I'll never forget. OK, time to talk about the music.
Until I listened to "GET YOUR NOSE OUTTA MY BIZNESS!", by RICH DELGROSSO, I had no clue that I actually liked the mandolin and how wonderful an instrument it truly is. Oh sure, I had heard of it, just as I had heard of a cello, a banjo, a bassoon and a viola. I had also heard of some of the so called legends of the instrument, but you'd search high and low trying to find a CD by one of them in my collection. This CD has given me a new found appreciation of the mandolin and the person who very well may be the next mandolin maestro, RICH DELGROSSO.
On "GET YOUR NOSE OUTTA MY BIZNESS!", RICH pulled no punches assembling a band. Along with himself on mandolin, guitar and vocals, are: the incomparable and legendary PINETOP PERKINS on piano, JAMES HARMON on harmonica, DOUG MACLEOD on guitar, JEFF TURMES on bass and saxophones, DAVID KIDA on drums, GARY ALLEGRETTO on harmonica and ERNIE SCARBROUGH on bass.
The CD opens with the title track, "GET YOUR NOSE OUTTA MY BIZNESS!". This RDG original is a great opener because it's a basic three piece track (mandolin, bass, drums) in which RICH, his instrument and his vocals are the highlight. This track made it easy to realize how easy it is to adapt to guitar-less blues.
"BIG FAT MAMA JAM", another original sounded exactly as the title would lead you to believe it sounded - it was a big fat instrumental jam. I found it interesting how well the mandolin held it's own going toe to toe against the harp and piano - and I don't just mean any old harp and piano - I'm talking about a harp and piano being beat up by JAMES HARMON and PINETOP PERKINS.
If you like 'guitar picking' you'll love RICH'S 'mandolin picking' on the Muddy Waters cover, "CAN'T BE SATISFIED". His voice, as burly as his frame, has RICH even sounding a bit like Muddy on this one. Of course, being a Muddy song, ya know JAMES rips it up on harmonica as well. As a matter of fact, everyone was right in the pocket on this one.
"CAN'T SAVE A DOLLAR" is a virtual battle of the baritones.....RICH'S vocals vs JEFF's sax.
"DIVING DUCK BLUES", a John Estes cover, unquestionably has to be a song RICH uses in the mandolin work shops he teaches. Hearing him play on this track was clearly the equivalent of a professor administering a subject lesson.
"EARLY IN THE MORNING" is definitely for the dancers. I was even doing the Buttsa Nova in my chair. It once again features RICH'S punch packing vocals and JEFF'S outstanding sax work with some kick ass percussion.
If good old, straight up Chicago Blues is your cup of tea, as it is mine, you'll enjoy RICH'S interpretations of "OUTSKIRTS OF TOWN", "TOO MANY DIRTY DISHES", and "THAT'S ALRIGHT". Be it on the guitar or on the mandolin, RICH rips it up on these tracks.
Perhaps one of the best tracks on "GET YOUR NOSE OUTTA MY BIZNESS!" is "WHEN THINGS GO WRONG". It's your basic blues ballad done with perfection.
Usually when a very large, very tough lookin' Italian tells me "GET YOUR NOSE OUTTA MY BIZNESS!" I tend to take that as very good advice and follow it. However, in this case, I may just look to get my nose into more of RICH DELGROSSO'S business and for that matter, possibly into the business of some of those other legendary mandolin masters.
You can visit Rich DelGrosso on the Web at: mandolinblues.com/