Veteran of tours with Rod Stewart, and Billy Squier as well as spending time in the James Montgomery band, Jeff Golub has distinguished in recent years as a jazz guitarist. His most recent album has him heading back to the blues with a tribute recording The Three Kings (Entertainment One), a tribute to Albert, B.B., and Freddie King. As he states, "When you look at the modern blues and rock vocabulary, it's almost impossible for anyone to play something that doesn't reflect their influence somehow. Featured on this disc is Henry Butler on keyboards and vocals, who co-produced it with Golub, Andy Hess on bass, and Josh Dion on drums, percussion and vocals. Special guests include Sonny Landreth and Robben Ford, while others in the studio include Chris Palmaro on Hammond B3, and horns and synth strings are heard as well.
There is a mix of covers and some originals that make for an entertaining collection of performances. Butler helps things start with the opening rendition of Let The Good Times Roll, and Born Under a Bad Sign, both solidly sung by Butler, but modeled on the recordings by B.B. and Albert respectively. Golub's instrumental "I Plain Sight, enables him to escape the shadows of both while also allowing Landreth to add a sharp slide guitar solo. Help the Poor, is not an overly familiar part of B.B.'s repertoire and Dion takes a fine vocal with a fresh arrangement. It is followed by Freddie King's instrumental Side Tracked, with Robben Ford adding a solo on a nice rendition with some nice twists in the backing.
Oh Pretty Woman, sounds slowed down slightly from Albert King's original and has a fine vocal from Butler with solid guitar and followed by a hot shuffle rendition Every Day I Have the Blues, with Dion taking another fine vocal. After Golub's hot solo, Butler takes a rollicking piano solo. Then a couple more of Freddie King's songs are tackled with Butler singing Have You Loved a Woman, and Dion on I'm Tore Up. with Golub's hard-edged guitar sounding like a mix of Freddie and Albert in his very solid playing."Freddie's Midnite Dream, a Sonny Thompson penned instrumental from his Cotillion recordings follows, and its lazy feel contrasts with many of King's better known instrumentals with Golub varying in intensity against the light background.
Stumblin' Home is an original instrumental based on The Stumble with nice use of the lower range. Butler wrote the original Three Kings with his celebration of Albert, Freddie and B.B., with a slight New Orleans funk rhythm and punchy horns to support Golub's driving guitar. The disc closes with an instrumental rendition of The Thrill Is Gone, but one is surprised to see that B.B. is credited as composer of the Rick Darnell and Roy Hawkins penned classic (and Hawkins 1951 original made the R&B charts). Golub's playing is pretty solid with judicious use of sustain along with Butler’s jazzy piano.
The Three Kings is a very enjoyable collection of blues performances. While most of the disc is comprised of covers, they are not slavish copies although most will be overshadowed by the originals. Drummer Josh Dion was a revelation as a vocalist on his three selections and the originals stand out in the set of solid blues performances.
My review copy was provided by a publicist.