The following review was published in the August 2009 (issue 319) Jazz & Blues Report (the whole issue can be downloaded as a pdf file at www.jazz-blues.com). This band was completely unknown to me and as indicated, this was more than a pleasant surprise.
Its a pleasure to put on something from a band that one had not previously been familiar with, and take notice.The new album by The Twisters, “Come Out Swingin’” (Northern Blues), produced that reaction. Based out of Vancouver, British Columbia and White Horse, Yukon, this quartet has developed a reputation as a first rate jump and swing blues band. On “Come Out Swingin’,” they add elements of rockabilly, reggae and gospel to this jump blues foundation. The Twisters consists of harmonica player Dave Hoerl, guitarist Brandon Isaak, bassist Keith Picot and drummer Lonnie Powell, with Matt Pease on drums for 3 of the 12 tracks, and Dave Haddock on fender bass for one with Kenny “Blues Boss” Wayne added on keyboards and Jerry Cook on saxophones and horn arrangements.The members of the band wrote all of the songs here and Hoerl and Isaak share the vocals between them.
Things sure start off strong with the opening “I’ll Make It Up To You,” with a melodic line evoking the twenties classic “Please Don’t Talk About Me When I’m Gone,” with some jazz-laced fretwork from Isaak (evocative of Bill Jennings, Tiny Grimes and Al Casey) and superlative chromatic playing by Hoerl with some unusual voicings behind Isaak’s vocal and guitar solo, and that doesn’t take into account Wayne’s piano. Hoerl takes the vocal on “Something’s Got to Give,” with a 60s R&B groove, some nice saxophones from Cook and the rhythm section just hits the groove with a nice topical lyric followed by “Long Overdue,” with an insistent beat as Isaak sings about waiting on his baby and pacing the floor because she is long overdue with Cook’s driving sax solo followed by Hoerl, again on chromatic displaying his strong tone and drive. Bassist Picot’s slap bass along with Isaak’s Tennessee Two styled guitar spark the rockabilly flavored “Doghouse” with Hoerl delivering the lyric and its followed by a modern blues shuffle, “Guess That I Was Wrong,” with Hoerl adding some remarkable harmonica accompaniment and solo here. I could continue with a comment on each track, but this superb recording deserves praise as does the band. Not simply having command of their instruments, Isaak and Hoerl add imaginative and distinctive touches throughout and the band is tight as two embracing lovers. The Twisters are simply a terrific band that deserves to be heard.