Thursday, December 31, 2009

Quintus McCormick's Soulful Blues Debut

One of my favorite blues discoveries of 2009 was the debut Delmark disc by Quintus McCormick. I wrote the following review which appeared in the October 15 to December 1 Jazz & Blues Report (Issue 321).

It has been an interesting musical journey for Chicago blues man Quintus McCormick. Born in Detroit, he grew up enamored with progressive rock with early inspirations coming from Hendrix, Jimmy Page, Santana, Humble Pie and Steve Howe of Yes. After moving to Chicago, and getting a musical degree he was playing pop music until he started with J.W. Williams and the Chicago Hustlers where he got his musical inspiration and then later worked sideman gigs with Lefty Dizz and James Cotton, as well as getting personal insights from various events in his life such as going down south to help his parents bury his granddad. As he has musically grown he has definitely developed into a contemporary urban blues voice with a strong soul-blues tinge. He brings a vocal style that captures elements of Charles Wilson, Little Milton, and others with an intense guitar style that Delmark has just captured in “Hey Jodie!,” the debut album by the Quintus McCormick Blues Band.

It opens with the title track, which is subtitled “Take Good Care of My Baby,” as he adds to the body of songs involving the back door lover, telling him to take care of Quintus’ baby since he can’t leave her alone. Its a soulful performance with nice horns and synthesized strings from keyboard wiz Roosevelt Purifoy. Its followed by the small group “Get You Some Business,” instead of taking care of Quintus’ business, with an insistent backing suggestive of some of the late Andrew Brown. McCormick is generally quite a solid guitarist but his heavily distorted tone adds little to the beginning of what is an otherwise intense performance, “What Goes Around Comes Around,” with some nice harp from Ted Reynolds. Not any complaints can be had for the driving shuffle “You Should Learn From This,” with its punchy horns. “Fifty/Fifty,” with the horns and harmonica has a funky groove as he sings about how he and his partner who have to share equally for their special love they have. “I’m Alright Now,” is a lazy Jimmy Reed-styled shuffle that McCormick takes a more low-key vocal with Reynolds adding some tasty harmonica. It is followed by a rocker, “Get That Money,” which does not completely jell together because of its frantic tempo and accompaniment. Much better are the soul ballad “Hot Lovin’ Woman,” and the pleading “Plano Texas Blues,” while “I’m a Good Man Baby,” is another fine performance that gets to display his fine guitar playing. Standing out among the many fine performances is the soulful singing on “There Ain’t No Right Way To Do Wrong,” and a nice terse solo. Obviously selections like this suggest that McCormick should be a significant presence on the southern blues and soul music, his music be as equally appealing to fans of such recent contemporary blues legends as Little Milton, Otis Rush, Andrew Brown, and Jimmy Johnson. While there may be one or two disappointing tracks among the 15 here, but overall this is a marvelous debut album by a blues voice I to hear more from.

To satisfy a possible interpretation of FTC regulations, I received a review copy from Delmark Records.

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