Monday, December 13, 2010

Kirk Fletcher Takes His Turn

At the relatively young age of 35, Kirk Fletcher certainly has established himself as a blues guitarist. He may be familiar to some from his recent stint with The Fabulous Thunderbirds, or perhaps some know him from his work with Janiva Magness, Charlie Musselwhite or Lynwood Slim, or as a member of The Manish Boys. Originally mentored by Al Blake of the Hollywood Fats Band he also was taken under the wing by veteran guitarist Junior Watson. He debuted on CD on a JSP album foillowed by a 2003 release, “Shades of Blue” that Delta Groove reissued in 2004. Now in 2010, he has a new recording “My Turn,” on Delta Groove’s “Electro Groove,” subsidiary that shows his growth as a guitarist who continues to display a crisp, dazzling attack but who has matured and incorporated more elements into his playing, but the foundation is a blues core.

From the opening rocking “El Medio Stomp,” he and his studio band kick things off and his twangy, twisting lines ride the groove. He sings some here, such as the very amiable take on Jimmy Reed’s “Found Love,” but also saxophonist Paulie Cerra takes the vocal on Jimmie Johnson’s rousing shuffle “Ain’t No Way,” sounding somewhat like Finis Tasby. Travis Carlton, son of guitarist Larry Carlton, plays bass on three tracks, including the funky title track that he penned with Cerra and keyboardist Luke Miller, with Cerra getting things going with some greasy sax before Fletcher takes flight with his guitar. Cerra takes the vocal on Sonny Landreth’s “Congo Square,” which is credited as traditional with Fletcher as arranger. Fletcher does take the tempo down slightly from other renditions, and this again gives him a chance to stretch out. Taylor Carlton joins again on bass for The Crusaders’ “Way Back Home” (Larry Carlton played on the original), that opens with a terrific bit of soul-jazz sax from Cerra, before Fletcher takes his thoughtful solo that fits in with the relaxed groove of the performance. “Blues For Antone,” starts acoustically before Kirk plugs in and is some hot blues guitar in the vein of Stevie Ray Vaughan and others. Kirk takes a turn at Sly Stone’s “Let Me Have It All,” singing as well as playing tough guitar with a smoldering backing that would have done the Family Stone proud. The Hendrix inspired, somewhat spacey “Continent’s End,” closes this album. Fletcher describes this as “my idea of Hendrix meets Sonic Youth.” Its an intriguing sonic exploration that concludes this latest, impressive sampling of Kirk Fletcher considerable talents.

This review originally appeared in the June 2010 Jazz & Blues Report (Issue 326) at page 10 (

The review copy was supplied by a publicist for the label.

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