This month we have ten new songs taken from ten brand new albums by some of the best blues artists from all over the world. Represented here is a blues man from Mississippi (who ever heard of such a thing?) as well as well as from Sao Paulo, Brazil, of course. A long time Californian from Alabama has one of his original tunes on the Jukebox. Texas is well represented as we have songs which came from albums by folks from Houston, Dallas and Austin. We have a song from a brand new album from a veteran blues man from France. Once again both men and women from three continents have come together here at the JUNCTION. What these recordings all have in common is excellence. Remember, as always, you are welcome to click on any of the album covers and you will be taken directly to the website of Bluebeat Music, your blues music specialists. There you will find these selections as well as 13,000 other CD titles in their inventory from the latest releases as well as hard to find gems.
Bobby “Blue” Bland Live & Righteous 1992 Rockbeat Records This is an extremely well played, well sung performance by this master soul/blues man. The band is on fire and Bobby is in fine vocal form. Good sound quality with full dynamic range and a well balanced mix make for a very satisfying listening experience. The first thirteen tracks were recorded in France in 1992 the final four were recorded live in 1999 in Indiana. From the later sides Bland pulls up a couple of his huge hits including I Pity the Fool and Further on Up the Road, but our Jukebox selection comes from the French concert closer Ain’t That Loving You Baby. If you were fortunate enough to see Bland and the band live during this time period you can remember he would burn down the stage with this number.
Jewel Brown feat. Bloodest Saxophone Roller Coaster Boogie Dynaflow Records Brown, a Houston, Texas native, has been singing professionally off and on for over 65 years. She may be best known for her seven year run in the 1960’s singing all over the world with Louis Armstrong’s Jazz All-Stars. She retired from singing in the early 70’s, but by the 80’s was finding occasional work, most notably with Arnett Cobb and Dizzy Gillespie. It wasn’t until 2012 that Jewel Brown resurfaced in a big way as Dynaflow Records President put out a record with Brown, pairing her with fellow Houstonian, guitar veteran Milton Hopkins. They made a terrific album on his old Dialtone imprint. Jewel Brown returned to the studio last summer. That studio was in Japan where Stout put her together with a six piece band with a weird name, Bloodest Saxophone. They are augmented by a pianist and additional percussionist to form an eight piece little big band that swings hard. From this great record my Jukebox pick is their take on a selection from the great American songbook, Bewitched.
Nico Duportal & His Rhythm Dudes Guitar Player Rhythm Bomb Records Nico Duportal stands in this month’s artist spotlight, as he not only has this fine new album out, he and his Rhythm Dudes back up Jai Malano on her great record which also is a new release on the Rhythm Bomb Record label. Guitarist/singer Duportal also produced that album entitled Rocket Girl which has a review in this month’s BLUES JUNCTION. Duportal and his band, which consists of drummer Pascual Mucci, Thibaut Chopin on upright bass, pianist Oliver “Red” Cantrell as well as the great two piece reed section of tenor player Arnaud Desprez and Alex Bertain on baritone saxophone, lay down a twelve song (plus bonus track) hard charging program of originals and covers that are a lot of fun. Our Jukebox selection is a cover of an old Ike Turner number called, Much Later.
Sherwood Fleming Blues Blues Blues Dynaflow Records Blues Blues Blues combines a great vocalist with stellar support from some of the best players anywhere. The album is a wonderfully sequenced and well paced affair. It is a nice mix of Fleming originals as well as some well chosen covers including Ike Turner’s Bold Soul Brother (Bold Soul Sister) and Bay Area blues impresario Bob Geddins’, My Time After Awhile. The album’s closing track is a beautiful a cappella reading of Mahalia Jackson’s Trouble of the World. It is a bold choice that works and puts a wonderful exclamation point on a terrific album. It is our Jukebox selection. Sherwood Fleming with the Moeller Brothers’ Blues Blues Blues is a welcome surprise. It would appear that Sherwood Fleming is a shoe-in for BLUES JUNCTION’s Come Back Artist of the Year. It is simply a great record.
James Harman Bonetime Electro-Fi Records This April 21st release, like all James Harman albums, has him utilizing the best musicians in service of some fantastic songwriting which includes great story telling delivered with the soulful voice of a true original. The long time Southern California resident from Anniston, Alabama, has had a career that spans parts of six decades and with this release, again demonstrates he is a one of the true greats in the blues field. Bonetime which is the subject of April’s Monthly Album Spotlight features twelve Harman originals including, the song Blue Stretchmark Tattoo.
Igor Prado Band Way Down South Delta Groove Music This year the Sao Paulo, Brazil, based Igor Prado Band is celebrating its 15th year of making blues music together. The nucleus of this band consists of guitarist and vocalist Igor along with his brother Yuri on drums and bassist Rodrigo Mantovani. Saxophone phenom Denilson Martins rounds out the line-up. This core group, along with piano greats Ari Borger and Donny Nichilo, as well as harmonica player Flávio Guimarães, have made some of the most consistently jaw dropping blues music anywhere on the planet. For Way Down South the band is joined by what is being billed as “Delta Groove All-Stars”. They include Kim Wilson, Mitch Kashmar, Junior Watson, Monster Mike Welch, Mud Morganfield and others. The album also includes the late Richard “Lynwood Slim” Duran, who helped to expose these fantastic musicians to a large international audience. The album is a collection of songs of mostly traditional, albeit obscure, blues covers. Our Jukebox selection is a Jimmy Rogers favorite of mine, What Have You Done. Here the great Mitch Kashmar steps up to the bandstand and as always, delivers solid as a rock. He along with Jai Malano will be joining Igor and company at the upcoming 2015 Doheny Blues Festival this May.
Kyle Jester After All This This generous fourteen track, fifty two minute outing of mostly well selected covers and well conceived originals, runs the gamut of cool. Vintage rock&roll and, of course, the straight ahead natural electric blues are wonderfully inter-woven with, at various times, nuanced embellishments of soul, rhythm&blues, jazz and even a little doo wop. Jester uncovered some superb gems from a wide variety of sources including Eddie Taylor, Jerry McCain, Snooks Eglin, B.B. King, Johnny Ace, Lester Butler and others. A couple of interesting originals fit comfortably alongside these nuggets. After All This was recorded in September and October of 2014 at Kid Andersen’s Greaseland Studios in San Jose, California. The CD was engineered and mastered by Andersen. Number 9 Train, the old Tarheel Slim tune, is given a nice treatment here and Jester even does the man who played guitar on the original proud, Wild Jimmy Spruell. This is a solid album all the way around.
Jai Malano Rocket Girl Rhythm Bomb Records Rocket Girl is the product of the wonderful collaboration between Malano and French guitarist, Nico Duportal. Duportal serves as the album’s producer and his band The Rhythm Dudes provide the retro rockin’ support for the mostly original material, penned by Malano. This brand new album was released by the London based Rhythm Bomb Records. It was recorded on October 27-29, 2014, at the Black Shack Recording Studios in Calw, Germany. The CD was recorded, mixed and mastered by Rawand Biaziany. You can find a comprehensive album review of Rocket Girl in this edition of BLUES JUNCTION. The album is full of great songs and I love the title track, but our Jukebox selection is a jump blues original written by Malano, Schnick-Schnack Boogie.
Darrell Nulisch One Night In Boston is Nulisch’s eighth release under his own name and the first live album in his prolific career. He has remained an in demand guest vocalist and has appeared on countless recordings going all the way back to the early 80’s and his stint with fellow Texan, Anson Funderburgh and The Rockets. For this outing Nulisch rounded up a band of veteran players from the New England blues mob with whom he has been associated for many years. They are drummer Mark Texiara from the Duke Robillard Band fame and bassist Marty Ballou who has played with...well everybody. Monster Mike Welch of Sugar Ray and the Bluetones’ renown handles the guitar duties. Welch continues to emerge, as this album demonstrates, as a versatile talent of the highest order. The real revelation on this album is the Hammond B3 work of Dave Limina. Limina in recent years can be heard on Ronnie Earl’s albums. It is this jazz organ trio sound that sets the tone and mood for One Night In Boston right out of the shoot. The album’s opening track is an instrumental listed in the CD’s liner notes as simply Warm Up. It is, in fact, a Jimmy Smith number entitled Blues for J. I am so partial to this tune and this vibe I chose this as our Jukebox selection.
Jackie Payne I Saw The Blues Blue Dot Records Jackie Payne’s career goes all the way back to Houston, Texas’ Gold Star studios and his association with the Crazy Cajun, Huey Meaux. Meaux wrote Payne’s first regional hit Go Go Train which was released on The Jet Stream Label in 1966. For fifteen years Payne was a featured vocalist in Johnny Otis’ band. In the late 90’s, he hooked up with former Dynatones’ guitarist Steve Edmonton and released three albums under the banner of the Jackie Payne/Steve Edmonson Band. For I Saw the Blues Payne went straight to Kid Andersen’s Greaseland studios. Andersen, along with fellow bay area based guitarist Anthony Paule, is listed along with Payne as the album’s producers. Both guitarists’ prints are all over this album as they share guitar duties on all but two of the album’s twelve tracks in which Andersen sits out. Half the songs on this contemporary sounding exploration of the blues, with healthy doses of soul and funk thrown into the mix, were written or co-written by Payne. It is one of these originals I chose for our Jukebox selection, Rock Me With a Steady Roll. This slow sultry blues has a natural down home feel. ‘You know daddy likes his lovin’ nice and easy / Just like those good barbeque ribs the meat ain’t done ‘till it’s nice and greasy.’