Saturday, June 24, 2017

Candye Kane White Trash Woman

Candye Kane
White Trash Woman
Ruf Records 

If blues is, as some describe it, “grown-up music, then Candye Kane’s emergence as a blues diva is not far removed from her earlier career in the adult entertainment business. But while her background may make her seem like a novelty, when you hear him pounding the ivories, belting out a remake of Bullmoose Jackson’s Big Fat Mamas Are Back in Style or listen to her caress the country-ish ballad What Happened to That Girl, one realizes her talent leads one to quickly forget the novelty of her background. 

Her latest album, White Trash Woman was recorded in Austin, Texas and is on the German Ruf label. Produced by Mark 'Kaz' Kazanoff, who also leads the horn section, he is joined by a stellar studio band that includes drummer Damien Llanes, bassist Preston Hubbard, guitarist Jeff Ross (with appearances by Johnny Moeller and David Grissom), harp wiz Gary Primich, keyboards by Riley Osbourn. Together they bring together a smorgasbord of blues moods and settings and Candye Kane comes across equally compelling belting out the title track (“It is an honor to be called a trashy broad in the traditions of legends such as Divine and Dixie Rose Lee), and Estrogen Bomb which she is the strong woman who offers no apologies and takes no prisoners when she gets crossed. 

She reworks the Loving Spoonful’s What a Day For a Daydream into a blues while lending a country feel to What Happened to the Girl, and sings about being Misunderstood with the band providing a traditional jazz backing including some nice clarinet. Leiber and Stoller’s I Wanna Do More evokes Little Walter’s hit, My Babe, with its groove and some fine harp by Mr. Primich. The following track, the original It Must Be Love, is a rocking shuffle with a fine fifties T-Bone mixed with B.B. guitar solo and strong jumping horns and a clean, soulful vocal. In contrast Queen of the Wrecking Ball, has her singing woman who breaks hearts with some nice guitar evoking the gulf coast swamp blues sound. 

Other songs include a boogie woogie about sexual self-gratification, and, Mistress Carmen, about a Grand Domme who is proud of her sensuality set to a New Orleans groove (Please Mistress Carmen, we just want to watch you dance), and a lovely love ballad, I Could Fall For You. With truly memorable songs and strong backing, Candye Kane convincingly delivers this varied programme with humor and passion. Candye Kane may be a White Trash Woman but this recording is most certainly high class.

I likely received a review copy from Ruf Records or a publicist. This review original appeared in the September 2005 DC Blues Calendar and the March/April 2006 Jazz & Blues Report (Issue 280). Here is a video of Candye (who passed away in 2016 with Little Willie Littlefield (who passed away in 2013).

Friday, June 23, 2017

Nick Schnebelen Live in Kansas City

Nick Schnebelen
Live in Kansas City

This is a follow-up to "Live at Knuckleheads," and features one of the members of the family band, Trampled Under Foot, leading a trio with Cliff Moore on bass, and Adam Hagerman on drums (I am taking this information of Nick's website as no other her personnel is given on the CD cover), although some tracks like the closing "Conformity Blues," sounds like additional musicians are present. Moore was on that earlier album which also featured Heather Newman. From the credits, most of the songs may have originally been by Trampled Under Foot with a few interesting covers.

Musically, this recording comes across as blues-rock. He is a limited singer who certainly invests his vocals with heart, although with a small range. He is quite a guitarist, combining technique, tone and imagination in the power blues-rock trio format heard here. Taken in small doses, tracks like the opening "Fool," with its field holler opening transitioning to a driving blues-rock, the cover of "Herbert Harper's Free Press News" (from the infamous "Electric Mud" album), and the sparkling slide guitar he plays "Bad Woman Blues" set to the Bo Diddley groove, certainly stand-out. There is more slide on a hyper-kinetic cover of Johnny Winter's "Mean Town Blues," and then the Z.Z. Top sounding boogie "Johnny Cheat." However, "Bad Disposition" comes off musically as a bit over the top. The closing "Conformity Blues," is musically the most interesting track with superb guitar and a feel in the manner of the Allman Brothers

Those coming to hear Nick Schnebelen's impressive blues-rock guitar playing will not be disappointed, although some, like this listener, will enjoy the music here is a few songs at a time.

I received my review copy from VizzTone. Here is Nick performing "Bad Woman Blues" and "Mean Town Blues."

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Adrianna Marie And Her Roomful Of All-Stars

Adrianna Marie And Her Roomful Of All-Stars
Kingdom of Swing

West Coast chanteuse Adrianna Marie has a second recording of jump blues and swing backed by a fine band including underrated guitarist L.A. Jones, pianist Al Copley, bassist Kedar Roy, drummer Brian Fahey and the Roomful Horns (Doug James, Rich Lataille, Doug Wooverton, Mark Early and Carl Querrfuth). Duke Robillard, who did the studio production, and Junior Watson guest on selected tracks while Bob Corritore is on harmonica for one tune.

There is a mix of originals by Adrianna along with covers of classic blues and swing numbers. The originals are pretty good songs and like everything this is well played in the vein of the early jump blues style of Roomful of Blues with plenty of brass as on the opening title track, her tribute to the swing era although the real king of swing was King Carter and not Goodman. Some nice growling trumpet from Wooverton on this selection. A similar thrust is "Gimme a Roomful," a salute to swing and Roomful of Blues."

A straight cover of an Esther Phillips' classic "Better Beware" is followed by a rollicking original "Sidecar Mama" that sounds like a cover of an unissued Camille Howard or Wynona Carr recording with a superb solo. "Memphis Boogie" is another noteworthy original in the jump blues tradition. These are fun sides with plenty of solo space, although when she attempts renditions from Ellington "Mood Indigo," Billie Holiday, "The Blues Are Brewin'," her vocals are enjoyable but hardly distinctive. And if not in the league as a singer on Helen Humes' level, her rendition of Humes' "Drive Me Daddy," displays her good taste in material. The terrific Muddy Waters' styled slide guitar, has Bob Corritore's harmonica lend it a Chicago blues meets jump blues feel.

"Jump With You Baby" gives several of the players a chance to solo while L.A. Jones duets with her on the boisterous "T-Bone Boogie," a thinly disguised reworking of Big Joe Turner-Pete Johnson classic "Roll 'Em Pete," with a terrific Doug James baritone sax solo and Al Copley laying down some strong boogie woogie piano. Jones takes a T-Bone Walker styled solo here followed by his wonderful playing on the closing instrumental "Blues After Hours." It closes an enjoyable and well-performed, if not outstanding, swing and blues recording.

I received my review copy from VizzTone. This review appeared in the May-June Jazz & Blues Report (Issue 372). Hdere she performs "Kingdom of Swing."

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Classic Piedmont Blues From Smithsonian Folkways

Classic Piedmont Blues From Smithsonian Folkways
Smithsonian Folkways

A new acoustic blues compilation from Smithsonian Folkways delves in the archives for the selections on this. Piedmont blues has an easy flow played in a finger-picking style where the guitarist, according to the late John Cephas, uses "thumb and fingers with an alternating thumb and finger style. I keep a constant bass line going with my thumb, and on the treble strings I pick out the melody or the words of the song I'm singing." Cephas is quoted in the cogent booklet with liner notes on the Piedmont blues, and the specific songs included (along with artist biographies), by Barry Lee Pearson.

From the opening John Jackson performance of "Truckin' Little Woman," the delightful Warner Williams performance, "Hey Bartender There's a Big Bug in My Beer" with Kentucky flatpicker Eddie Pennington, several performances of Brownie McGhee and Sonny Terry, Baby Tate's wonderful "If I Could Holler Like a Mountain Jack," along with the incomparable Rev. Gary Davis' instrumental "Mountain Jack," John Cephas and Phil Wiggins' rendition of Blind Boy Fuller's "Mamie," Elizabeth Cotton's "Going Down The Road Feeling Bad," Pink Anderson's "Meet Me in the Bottom," to the closing tribute by Archie Edwards to his friend  Mississippi John Hurt, "The Road Is Rough and Rocky," this is marvelously played music by some of the style's  finest artists.

There are also included a few performances by old-time music artists such as Hobart Smith, Doc Watson and Roscoe Holcomb, and as Pearson notes there was plenty of musical interaction between such a artists with Black artists. One of my finest memories of John Jackson was him playing old-time string band music with former musical students of him and it is unfortunate that none of the performances he and Doc Watson performed together at The Smithsonian Folklife Festival have been issued as they would have made this wonderful collection even better.

I do note that the Archie Edwards performance had been previously issued on the similarly theme Smithsonian-Folkways collection "Classic Appalachian Blues" and it is unfortunate another performance by him was not chosen. Still this is a first-rate collection of this blues style.

I purchased this recording. Here is the late John Jackson performing.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Catherine Russell Harlem on My Mind

Catherine Russell
Harlem on My Mind
Jazz Village

Some familiar with this blog may be aware, I am a fan of the singer, Catherine Russell. Regarding her 2012 release "Strictly Romancin'," I observed that, "Vocally she remains as commanding as in her past efforts as her vocals are delivered soulfully yet with a clarity that many vocalists today would benefit from listening to her mix of clean diction and musicality." The same can be said about this latest recording, with a mix of classic swing numbers mixed with intriguing renditions of fifties rhythm'n'blues and a few obscure songs that she introduces to many. 

On her latest release she is backed by a superb rhythm section of guitarist Mike Munisteri, pianist Mark Shane, bassist Tal Ronen, and drummer Mark McLean. Saxophonists Andy Ferber, Mark Lopeman and Dan Block along, with trumpeter Jon-Erik Kellso, are among those playing on horns. One track has centenarian Fred Staton (brother of the late Candy Staton). 

The title track is an Irving Berlin song that Ethel Waters originally recorded and is performed with small group backing as Russell so sonorously delivers "I’ve got Harlem on my mind /And I’m longing to be low down/ And my parlez vous will not ring true / With Harlem on my mind," and followed by the vibrant big little band (tentet) horn-driven  "I Can’t Believe That You’re In Love With Me," with Munisteri providing solid rhythm guitar in the manner of Freddie Greene. This is followed by the ebullient swing of "Swing! Brother Swing!" with wonderful muted trumpet by Kellso, trombone from John Allred and Mark Lopeman's tough tenor sax. Then there is the wonderful rendition of Ray Noble's classic ballad, "The Very Thought of You," the delightful, slightly naughty, neo-trad reworking of the Clarence Williams' classic, "You Got the Right Key But The Wrong Keyhole" (with Lopeman's clarinet and Munisteri's banjo), and anogther lovely ballad, "Don’t Take Your Love From Me," with a marvelous, romantic tenor sax solo from Fred Staton.

An impish rendition Fats Waller-Andy Razaf gem “Blue Turning Grey Over You,” is followed by a wonderful rendition of a torch song, “You’re My Thrill,” with a marvelous Farber horn arrangement. I am not sure who first recorded “I Want a Man” (Esther Phillips?) but Russell's rendition reminds me of the sass and vigor Ruth Rrown brought to similar material. Benny ‘King’ Carter’s classic “When Lights Are Low,” receives a royal rendition followed by a terrific cover of Little Willie John’s “Talk To Me, Talk To Me,” along with her own, heart-felt take of Dinah Washington’s “Let Me Be the First to Know.”

The retro-swing “Goin’ To Town,” was part of Duke Ellington’s Cotton Club repertoire and recorded by Catherine’s father Luis Russell in 1931. The effervescent performance provides a lively close to another superb recording from Ms. Russell. No one is producing such a series of excellent joyful celebrations of swing jazz and jump blues as Catherine Russell, of which “Harlem on My Mind,” is simply the latest example.

I purchased this as a download. Here Catherine performs a blues Dinah Washington recorded,  "My Man Is An Undertaker."

Rockin' Johnny Burgin Neoprene Fedora

Rockin' Johnny Burgin
Neoprene Fedora
West Tone Records

This new release is a follow-up to "Greetings From Greaseland," and further chronicles Burgin's move to California from Chicago. Like the early recording, this was recorded by Kid Andersen (who plays guitar, bass, baritone guitar and piano on various tracks) at his Greaseland Studio. Others backing Burgin include Ali Kumar on harmonica and a couple vocals; Bob Welsh on guitar and piano; bassist Vance Ehlers; drummer June Core; drummer Stephen Dougherty; saxophonist Nancy Wright and accordion player Steve Willis.

There is a mix of material from the opening title track, an instrumental that bridges blues, surf and Tex-Mex guitar on a tune that deconstructs the melody of Herbie Mann hit "Comin' Home Baby" with Wight's raspy sax adding atmosphere behind Burgin's tremolo laced runs then transitions into a "Night Train" inspired segment segueing into a "Bo Diddley" beat groove with some Chuck Berry styled guitar. This tour de force is followed by a West Side Chicago blues "Guitar King" which suggests Otis Rush crossed with Jimmy Dawkins. Burgin is an amiable singer, if not a great one. He is convincing on "Won't Get Married Again," in the manner of the legendary Eddie Taylor. "Let Me Be Your Teddy Bear," has Magic Sam styled guitar with uncluttered backing reminiscent of Eddie C. Campbell.

Alabama Mike wonderfully handles the lead vocal on "Smoke and Mirrors," with its syncopated Byther Smith meets Bobby Rush accompaniment. Mike's other vocal is a nice soul ballad, "I Did The Best I Could," with a bluesy solo from Burgin. Besides the nods to Chicago blues, "Kinda Wild Women" is a zydeco flavored dance number followed by an attractive swamp pop ballad, "Please Tell Me," and "Our Time Is Short" is a waltz that employs the "Jole Blonde" melody. On this musical trip to the bayou, there is solid accordion and rubboard. "Self-Made Man" with shattering Jimmy Dawkins' flavored guitar along with Aki Kumar's reedy singing and terrific full-bodied chromatic harmonica. "I Ain't Gonna Be Working Man No More" brings back memories of the greatly underrated Johnny Littlejohn's "Chips Flying Everywhere," both with the interesting syncopation of rhythm.

"Goodbye Chicago" musically evokes Howlin' Wolf as Burgin sings about why he is going to California and has to put the Windy City down. As the song progresses he recites a list of Blues artists he played with in Chicago, and quite an impressive list it is. Wright takes a terrific tenor sax solo in the manner of Eddie Shaw on this. It closes another fine recording by Rocking Johnny Burgin who displays his deep Chicago blues roots while incorporating other sounds into his fertile musical garden.

I received a download from the artist from which I was able to do this review. Here is a video of Johnny and Ali Kumar performing in Finland.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Billy Price Alive and Strange

Billy Price
Alive and Strange
Nola Blues/Vizztone

Veteran blue-eyed soul singer Billy Price follows his acclaimed collaboration with the late Otis Clay that won a Blues Music Award. It has been some three decades since the late Jerry 'The Bama' Washington who play Price's covers of O.V. Wright and others over WPFW in Washington, DC. Price is still at it with a mix of southern soul and city blues covers and idiomatic originals that he recently documented on this live recording with the Billy Price Band. The members of the Billy Price Band are Steve Delach (guitar), Tom Valentine (bass), Dave Dodd (drums), Jimmy Britton (keyboards), and Eric DeFade (tenor sax). There are guest horn players and background vocalists on this.

Price is in good form although his the tone of voice seems to be a tad flat as if perhaps showing a bit of the years of performing. Still it doesn't detract from these straight-forward and heartfelt performances. The tone is set with a rendition of Carl Sims' "It Ain't A Juke Joint Without The Blues," with Delach's guitar complementing Price's vocal of a place full wall to wall and everyone having a ball, followed by a nice delivery of William Bell's lament as since she has been gone, Bill is living the "Lifestyles Of The Poor And Unknown."

Price's own "Something Strange" is a driving funky blues with punchy horns. Price does a solid cover of a lesser known Bobby Bland recording, "This Time I'm Gone For Good." It is followed by a nice version of Earl Thomas' soul ballad about holding on for "One More Day," with nice jazzy guitar and tenor sax solos. After a sober treatment of a Percy Mayfield gem, "Nothing Stays The Same Forever," Price and Band get into a James Brown cover "Never Get Enough," and then a brassy rendition of Magic Sam's "What Have I Done Wrong," which also showcases solos from Delach (particularly outstanding here) and DeFade.

One of Price's strength is his incorporation in his repertoire of lesser known gems such as George Torrence's 1968 recording "Lickin' Stick," before closing the live set from the Club Cafe in 2016 with a wonderfully paced Roy Milton classic, "R.M. Blues," with Joe Herndon blasting the trumpet solo. A bonus track, "Making Plans," was recorded at the Carnegie Mellon School of Music in 2012, that also showcases Price's ability at putting together a lyric. This bonus track adds a nice close to a real good recording by the veteran singer.

I received my review copy from VizzTone. This review appeared in the May-June 2017 Jazz & Blues Report (Issue 372).  Here is the Billy Price Band performing "It Ain't A Juke Joint Without The Blues."

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Floyd Dixon Wake Up And Live!

Floyd Dixon
Wake Up And Live!

Rhythm and Blues pioneer Floyd Dixon has been alive and well on the West Coast these years, and with the release of Wake Up and Live! on Alligator, he may start to reap some of the rewards that fellow pioneers Charles Brown and Ruth Brown have garnered in recent years.

The Marshall, Texas native gained fame for his recordings in the late forties and fifties. While he has been compared to Charles Brown, a substantial portion of his repertoire was rockers that were somewhat in the vein of those with which Amos Milburn scored. In fact one of Dixon’s Specialty recordings, Hole in the Wall is a takeoff on Milburn’s Chicken Shack Boogie. Dixon is perhaps known as the composer of Hey Bartender, But that is a somewhat trivial song compared to the other fine rocking blues and blues ballads he waxed in the forties and fifties.

While opening with a remake of Hey Bartender, Wake Up and Live! sports a whole range of material from the menacing slow Mean And Jealous Man, to Rockin’ At Home, another song reminiscent of Milburn’s Chicken Shack Boogie. Unlike Brown, Dixon’s voice shows a hint of wear, but he is also a more overtly expressive vocalist. His playing shows absolutely no deterioration and his producer Port Barlow plays strong idiomatic guitar. While Eddie Synigal is a new name to this writer, he is a booting saxophonist.

While I’ve heard a self-produced album by Dixon that was enjoyable, it did not suggest how powerful a performer he remained. A recipient of the Rhythm and Blues Foundation Pioneer Award several years ago, this album shows that Floyd Dixon is more than capable of recalling past glories, and that the best may even be yet to come. Great stuff.

I likely received a review copy from Alligator Records, and I believe is still available. This review originally appeared in the June 1996 Jazz & Blues Report (Issue 212). Here is Floyd (who passed away in 2006) performing.