Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Davell Crawford's The B-3 & Me

Touted by some as the latest emerging New Orleans keyboard master, Davell Crawford’s second album for Rounder’s Bullseye Blues & Jazz, The B-3 & Me, presents a different side of his music than his earlier album, Let Them Talk. While that album showcased his vocals, rollicking piano and gospel influences, the present album features him in an organ trio.

Crawford is joined by a couple of major young voices: saxophonist Clarence Johnson II and drummer Shannon Powell. Guitarist June Yamaguchi of the Wild Magnolias band plays on one track, Germaine Bazzle sings on one, and Henry Butler plays piano on another. Many of the songs are blues-based but the playing here is more forward looking than some similar albums.

Johnson’s sometimes acerbic tone, which occasionally reaches to the saxophone’s upper range, is complimented by Crawfords’s chicken-fried organ. The trio sounds tight whether it takes the music into the alley or hits a hot bebop groove. Powell’s contributions cannot be underestimated as he propels the performances with shifting rhythmic accents along with a solid rhythmic pulse.

In addition to original blues like Johnson’s Struttin’, and Crawford’s The Cat, the trio shows a particular affinity to Ray Charles as they go to church on the country classic, I Can’t Stop Loving You along with Hallelujah I Love Her So. Johnson sits out I Can’t Give You Anything But Love. The track with Butler on piano showcases not only that each is a master of the keyboards, but also how much they compliment each others solos.

This review originally appeared in the April 1998 Jazz & Blues Report (Issue 230). Davell will be having a new album coming on Basin Street Records in the not distant future which will be highly welcome as he has not had a nationally distributed recording in some time. He is Davell performing.

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