A few months ago, I was more than pleasantly surprised by a blues release from the Brazilian Igor Prado Band, writing “Guitarist and vocalist Prada, along with brother Yuri on drums, Rodrigo Mantovani, bass and Denilson Martins on saxophones, mixes hard modern blues and Memphis Soul with some ripping guitar … .” A new surprise came my way as I received an advance of a new recording by West Coast singer and harp player, Lynwood Slim who had traveled down to Sao Paolo to record the Prado Band. “Brazilian Kicks” is the new release on Delta Groove, and the combination of Slim’s vocals and harp with the ripping backing by the Igor Prado Band makes for a strong recording deeply rooted in classic blues, soul and funk.
“Shake It Baby,” opens this disc and is the only track on which Prado sings. This is a James Brown styled number that Junior Wells and Buddy Guy penned and recorded over forty years ago. Prado takes it more into a funk band vein with booting sax from 20 year old Denilson Martins. Besides Igor Prado’s guitar (he takes a terrific break here full of single note runs and Ike Turner styled whammy bar effects), Slim rides it out on flute as the performance fades out. Guest pianist Donny Nicholo joins bassist Mantovani and drummer Yuri Prado to create a terrific rhythm section, evident on the Dave Bartholomew penned “Is It True,” with nice piano as the song fades out.
Martins’ multi-tracked horns kick off the cover of Wyonnie Harris’ recording of “Bloodshot Eyes,” as Slim emphatically delivers the Hank Penny lyric. Martins takes a robust tenor sax solo before Prado takes a solo break with a bit of twang added to the single note runs. “My Hat’s on the Side of My Head,” is a swinging blues-ballad comfortably crooned by Slim with jazzy playing (echoes of Al Casey and Tiny Grimes), before more fine tenor sax. Duke Robillard fans should really dig this track. The hot instrumental “Blue Bop,” is based on a familiar riff that Prado launches off from for some hot choruses. Martins rips off a husky baritone sax solo displaying considerable agility in addition to his robust sound.
The band takes the temperature down a notch for Slim’s cover of Little Walter’s “Little Girl,” as Prado evoking Louis Myers and Slim’s shows his debt to Little Walter. Mantovani and Yuri Prado provide their unobtrusive support here as throughout. “I Sat and Cried,” is a superb rendition of an uptown blues by the late Jimmy ‘T-99’ Nelson, while on Slim’s ballad “Maybe Someday,” the band captures the melancholy tone of his lyrics. Nicholo plays some nice jazz-shaded blues piano before Prado takes a short break. This track suggests some of Johnny Bassett’s blues and, like those recordings, demonstrates that mellow does not mean bland or devoid of soul.
“Show Me the Way,” another Slim original (co-penned with Junior Watson), is a terrific Chicago-styled blues with more terrific harp, followed by “Bill’s Change,” a driving Prado penned instrumental with more scintillating guitar and some fierce baritone sax. Like most of this album, it is perfect for dancing. The rendition of Memphis Slim’s “The Comeback” is more urbane, jazzy (than straight Chicago) blues with tinges of Joe Williams in Lynwood Slim’s vocal and small group Basie in the backing here. Prado plays jazzy on this, while Martins raspy tenor is right on.
The most unexpected delight is the closing instrumental “Going to Mona Lisa’s,” penned by Slim and Prado. It sound like a lost Little Walter instrumental with the Aces. Yuri Prado coming off like Fred Below as he drops bombs and drives the performance along. Slim in his notes states that Yuri has “the snap, attack and timing as good or better than any of the heavyweights out there today!” I can’t recall anyone catching the flavor of Below’s drumming as Yuri Prado does here. This track may place his drumming more upfront, his playing throughout validates how Slim described him.
Listening to the collaboration between Lynwood Slim and the Igor Prado Band reinforces the enthusiasm I have shown towards Prado a few months ago. Slim’s own contributions display his fine singing and terrific harp playing on an album that amazes in how good it is. This is clearly among the best blues recordings I have heard in 2010. Delta Groove’s website is www.deltagroovemusic.com, while Slim can be found on myspace at www.myspace.com/lynwoodslimband and Igor Prado at www.myspace.com/igorprado. I have a feeling we will be hearing more from our Blues friends from San Paolo.
This is scheduled for release on November 16, and I received a review copy from the firm handling publicity for the release.