Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Outstanding 2010 New Blues Recordings

Continuing my look back at 2010 releases, here are ten choice new blues recordings. These are not in specific order.

Ronnie Earl Spread The Love (Stony Plain) About this terrific CD of blues and jazz guitar I wrote, “Ronnie Earl can takes us from the alley up into the heavens with his playing. He can play with grit yet touch us in our hearts and soothe our minds.”

James Cotton Giant (Alligator). Strong latest album by the harmonica legend with his current working band thats shows his harp playing as strong as ever. It “is a strong addition to Cotton’s rich musical legacy and is also valuable to document the terrific music that Cotton has been playing with his working band.”

Chris James & Patrick Rynn Gonna Boogie Anyway (Earwig Music). Second CD by guitarist and bassist who are well-versed in classic Chicago blues, whether backing legends like Jody Williams, or playing their own music. About this I wrote, “James and Rynn’s musical partnership has produced a second marvelous helping of blues delicacies.”

Andy Cohen Built Right On The Ground (Earwig Music). Andy Cohen has been playing older music styles on guitar, piano, dolceola and assorted instruments for several decades now and has had a number of recordings over the year. Of this, I observed, that it “showcases not simply how good a player he is and the extensiveness of his repertoire, but also the warmth and genuineness of his vocals. This recording is a must for lovers of acoustic and traditional blues.

Samuel James For Rosa, Maeve, and Noreen (Northern Blues). An unusual album of acoustic songs and storytelling that is deeply rooted. Samuel James “doesn’t shout his vocals as almost speaking them as his performances are somewhat conversational. Samuel James’ music is distinctive and fresh sounding. The result is a most beguiling recording that evokes older blues styles but is full of contemporary stories.”

Lynwood Slim and the Igor Prado Band Brazilian Kicks (Delta Groove). Brazilian Igor Prado’s excellent CD, Watch Me Move” (Chico Blues), grabbed my attention. Here he and his band are fronted by the strong singer-harmonica player, Lynwood Slim. Besides Prado’s spectacular playing, this band rocks and swings. “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.”

Robin Rogers Back in the Fire (Blind Pig). A final testament to a wonderful singer who just passed away, but was much loved by her fellow musicians and those who knew her. About her I noted that she sang “with complete authority and total conviction.” This is a terrific recording and stands as evidence of the strong music she produced before she left us.

Shakura S’Aida Brown Sugar (Ruf). My opening paragraph of my review says it all. “Born in Brooklyn, raised in Switzerland and long resident in Toronto, Ontario, Shakura S'Aida, is an international artist whose involvement in the Canadian music scene has been ongoing for the past 30 years, enriching the jazz, blues and classic R&B communities with her soulful voice, enthusiastic personality and commitment to music as an art form. Recently signed to Ruf Records, she has a new disc, Brown Sugar, that certainly will establish her as a significant vocalist.

Chris Cain So Many Miles (Blue Rock’It Records). Highly underrated West Coast blues performer who n ever disappoints. His music may lack flash but has plenty of substance. “Cain’s ability as a guitarist is displayed as his driving solos are concisely delivered, interesting driving solos, swinging with unexpected twists. Chris Cain’s sound is soulfully delivered blues with an urbane jazzy spicing and So Many Miles showcases this exceptionally.”

Eden Brent Ain’t Got No Troubles” (Yellow Dog Records). Pianist and vocalist eden Brent has certainly emerged this year as a strong performer (2010 BMA Award winner for her piano). Here latest recording “mixes a marvelous pianist and vocalist with strong material, sympathetic backing and varied, imaginative programming resulting in a terrific recording that should appeal to blues and roots music fans.”

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