Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Bo Dud and Freddie Roulette

Bo Dud & Freddie Roulette by NoVARon
Bo Dud & Freddie Roulette, a photo by NoVARon on Flickr.
With all the attention on sacred steel players and their progeny like Robert Randolph, Freddie Roulette's contributions that date nearly fifty years old are sometimes overlooked for lap steel playing. Here he was at the Ponderosa Stomp backing Bo Dud(ley) who he played steel guitar on "Shotgun Rider."

Here is "Shotgun Rider"with some mind-blowing steel guitar.

Here is a track from a terrific album by Freddie with the late Willie Kent that came out a number of years ago. A follow-up album of more strong blues was recorded but the label never issued it.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Django Festival All Stars Live at Birdland and More

The Django Festival Allstars, purveyors of Gypsy jazz in vein of the legendary Django Reinhardt, have become frequent visitors to the States, including regular runs in New York City. Led by guitarist Dorado Schmitt and accordionist (Ludovic Beier) with Franko Mehrstein on rhythm guitar (with Dorado’s sons Samson and Branson also becoming regulars), their performances at venues such as Birdland and the Kennedy Center are to full houses. This writer was fortunate to see them a couple years ago at the Kennedy Center for an exhilarating evening full of virtuosity, passion and heart, and will be there when they return in this fall. 

While not part of the Allstars when I saw them, they also include violinist Pierre Blanchard. The latest recording is Live at Birdland & More, (Three’s A Crowd Records) reflecting that it includes some live performances from NYC’s Birdland club as well as some Paris studio recordings that includes guest appearances by saxophonist Anat Cohen and cellist Jisoo OK. This CD is the first time that members of the Schmitt family dynasty performing together have been recorded for North American release.

There are plenty of pleasures to be heard here starting with the traditional Gitan Swing which provides Dorado a chance to dazzle with astonishing technique along with Beier’s similarly dazzling accordion playing on this hot jazz performance. Dorado switches to violin for a lovely original For Pierre, that is dedicated to Blanchard and displays Dorado’s warm style. Blanchard is featured on his own original Balkanic Dance, with evocation of Indian solo violin and Balkan folk dances that morphs to a driving gypsy swing performance with Beier’s accordion complementing Blanchard’s fiery playing. Anat Cohen guests on soprano saxophone on what is perhaps Django Reinhardt’s most famous composition Nuages, with some lovely and very warm playing in her own style. 

Another Blanchard original, Valse En Exil, is a lovely piece of romanticism with Samson Schmitt exhibiting a precise technique in his guitar solo while Dorado’s El Dorado has a Brazilian flavoring with delightful interplay between Beier and Dorado. On Reinhardt’s Manor De Mes Reves, Beier is heard on the accordina (a mouth accordion) then lends a wistful quality. The marvelous Out of Nowhere, displays the lovely gliding violin of Blanchard and Dorado’s cleanly, articulated playing set against a simple rhythm on this standard. There are moments of faux-Middle East sounds (think of Juan Tizol’s Caravan) on Beier’s vibrant Camping Car with fiery solos from Blanchard and him. Dorado is again featured on violin, on his own Song For Ettore, exhibiting a strong romanticism in his playing while his son, Amati is featured on lead guitar. Son Bronson contributed Bronson’s Song, with fleet and imaginative playing suggesting some influence from Grant Green. Them Their Eyes, perhaps familiar from Billie Holiday is a tour de force for Samson, Beier and Blanchard, who also shine on Dorado’s Melissa

Bossa Dorado closes this lively and enchanting recording with Dorado taking the lead against the rhythm guitars of Samson and Mehrstein with Jisoo Ok providing a different musical tone with her charming cello playing. This is a spirited close to a recording of virtuosity and passion that is full of charm as well as exhilaration. This was produced by Pat Philips and Ettore Stratta, who are founders and producers of the regular Django Reinhardt New York Festival which is in midst of its 14th year in celebrating the legacy of Django Reinhardt and the Gypsy jazz tradition, which this release helps document.

I received by review copy from a publicist.  Here is a clip of Dorado Schmitt and the Django Festival Allstars performing How High The Moon.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Dayna Kurtz - Secret Canon Vol. 2

I was not familiar with Dayna Kurtz prior to receiving her new album, Secret Canon Vol. 2 (M.C. Records), but when she starts singing the opening I Look Good In Bad, she immediately grabbed my attention. Now resident in New Orleans, she is originally from New Jersey and I have discovered she has quite a resume. This is her second album of of lost and obscure blues and R&B gems from the 1940's-1960's with a couple of originals added including the powerful opening track where she belts out “I’ve been bad since you left me, but I look good in bad.”

Recorded in New York and New Orleans, she is supported by Joe Cowherd on keyboards for both sessions. Papa John Gros is on organ for the New Orleans sessions that also included Jason Mingledorff on saxophone who is outstanding on “ Look Good In Bad. Kurtz displays a presence and authority throughout. And she certainly has selected some nice songs to revive. I share her love of Johnny Adams, and she is brave enough to do a solid cover of Adams’ recording of Reconsider Me, although I think it would have been even stronger if she hadn’t tried to emulate Adams’ falsetto. Then there is the soulful lament where she asks to meet him Same Time, Same Place. There is terrific trumpet from Barney Floyd behind her nuanced vocal on this. If You Won't Dance With Me, with a New Orleans second-line groove, is a playful number where she proclaims to her lover that if you won’t dance, than that guy will and “I don’t care you paid for dinner, you ain’t going home a winner.” The mood changes back to the blues as she does not ask for sunshine or for the world to be hers, but wistfully says that All I Ask Is Your Love. 

She turns down the heat on the jazz-tinged I Had My Moments, with John Bailey contributing the nice trumpet, that closes this excellent collection of blues, ballads and laments. With wonderful backing and choice selection of material, Secret Canon Vol. 2, wonderfully displays Dayna Kurtz’s striking vocals.

I received my review copy from M.C. Records. Here is a video of Reconsider Me that was made to help promote this CD.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Roomful Of Blues Celebrates 45 Live

45 Live, the new Alligator CD by Roomful of Blues is a live performance that celebrates the band’s 45 years. The band started as a jump blues oriented group inspired by the music of T-Bone Walker, Roy Milton, Johnny Otis, Big Joe Turner, Eddie ‘Cleanhead’ Vinson and the like, and even recorded behind Turner and Vinson for a couple of quite well regarded recordings. Over the years evolved into more of an modern urban blues band (think Bobby Bland’s Duke recordings). Originally Duke Robillard fronted the band on guitar and vocals and when he left, Ronnie Earl spent a stint on guitar with Chris Vachon eventually taking over that spot which he has held for a couple decades. Philip Pemberton has been handling the vocals for some time now. Roomful has become an institution, and I say that in a positive manner in having their having an immediately recognizable sound and approach to the music.

Recorded at The Ocean Mist in Rhode Island over three nights, the disc kicks off with the driving Just Keep On Rockin’, followed by the insistent modern urban blues It All Went Down the Drain, although on this latter number and the following Jambalaya, Vachon sounds like he is trying to copy Lonnie Mack’s tone. A cover of Magic Sam’s Easy Baby gives a chance for Vachon to stretch out with the horns riffing in support. That’s Right is a superb hot jump blues performance, and is that Rich Lataille who is wailing on tenor sax (Lataille has been with Roomful for 43 years). Lataille’s homage to Illinois Jacquet, Straight Jacquet, allows Lataille, fellow saxophonist Mark Earley and trumpeter Doug Wolverton (growling with his mute) to display their chops on a number that evokes Flying Home. There are also first rate renditions of Crawdad Hole, and Somebody’s Got To Go, that Big Joe Turner and Eddie ‘Cleanhead’ Vinson respectively recorded with Roomful thirty-five odd years ago. As good as these are, the interpretation of Jimmy Rushing’s I Left My Baby, is really special with Pemberton terrific and I suspect Buck Clayton would be smiling listening to Wolverton’s playing here.

Providing the foundation is the excellent rhythm section of keyboardist Rusty Scott (nice solos on Crawdad Hole and I Left My Baby); bassist John Turner, and drummer Chris Rivelli. They lay down the solid groove and cover a lot of blues genres as Rich Lataille notes, “Though we cover all the bases, our mainstay is horn-driven, hard honking R&B.” And there is plenty of that hard driving R&B here.

I received my review copy from Alligator Records. This is scheduled for release on July 30.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Lurrie Bell Has The Blues In His Soul

Lurrie Bell’s latest album Blues In My Soul marks his return to Delmark with whom he made some of his finest recordings. His last two recordings on Aria displayed a bit of his musical range while the present set is a set devoted to traditional Chicago blues. On this he is joined by Roosevelt Purifoy on keyboards; Melvin Smith on bass; Willie Hayes on drums and Matt Skoller on harmonica with a couple selections featuring horns. The 14 songs include three originals and eleven interpretations of classic blues recordings associated with T-Bone Walker, Jimmy Rogers, Junior Wells, Otis Rush and others, produced by Dick Shurman for some straight Chicago blues.

Bell is an appealing, if not compelling singer with his unforced, heartfelt grainy vocals, with his imaginative, quirky guitar playing adding unexpected twists and delights to his music. My use of the word interpretation as opposed to cover is deliberate, because Bell’s renditions of T-Bone Walker’s Hey Hey Baby, or Jimmy Rogers’ Going Away Baby are fresh re-workings of the source recordings. Bell’s originals include the title song where he sings about liking what he is doing cause he feels the blues deep in soul with a backing that might suggest As the Years Go Passing By, or Somebody Loan Me a Dime. Purifoy’s organ is wonderful here while he is equally fine with the rollicking piano on Lurrie’s rendition of Big Bill Broonzy’s I Feel So Good, with nice harp from Skoller to go with Bell’s snap crackle and pop guitar here. 

‘Bout the Break of Day, Junior Wells rendition of Early in the Morning, is done in a gut-bucket fashion with Bell’s restrained fire adding to this marvelous version. One of Bell’s other originals, 24 Hour Blues, is a relaxed shuffle done as a tribute to his friend Magic Slim, who had passed earlier that day. There is a briskly tempoed shuffle rendition of I Just Keep Loving Her, one of Little Walter’s early recordings with crisp, rocking breaks from Skoller and Purifoy in addition to Bell. 

Bell closes this disc out with a fine rendition of Otis Spann’s The Blues Never Die, again showcasing not simply Bell (with a superb solo), but the band as well. The result is another one of the very solid blues performances on Blues In My Soul.

I received my review copy from Delmark. Here is a youtube clip with the audio of the title track. Now go purchase or download this CD. :)

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Barrelhouse Chuck Driftin' From Town To Town

Barrelhouse Chuck Goering is one of the most accomplished traditionally oriented blues pianists (and organists), having been mentored by Little Brother Montgomery and Sunnyland Slim, amongst others. Last year I was delighted to discover his 2006 recording with harmonica ace Kim Wilson and others, My Eyes on You (The Sirens). He has been touring with Kim Wilson the past few years and now Barrelhouse Chuck & Kim Wilson's Blues All Stars has a follow-up recording on The Sirens Driftin' From Town To Town.

Chuck and Wilson both handle the vocals and are supported by guitarists Billy Flynn and Jeremy Johnson; bassist Larry 'The Mole" Taylor; drummer Richard Inness; and Sax Gordon on Baritone and tenor saxophones.The band is as solid as the personnel would indicate for a stunning recording of straight-ahead, Chicago blues. Chuck handles most of the vocals on this starting with the title track, a wonderful original by him that showcases his wonderful piano playing and vocals as well as Wilson's harmonica mastery. He also revives a couple of Floyd Jones numbers, including the terrific Stockyard Blues, and a fine cover of Sunnyland Slim's She's Got a Thing Going On

Wilson has wonderful vocals on Howlin' Wolf's I'm Leaving, with a terrific guitar solo and Goering pounding the ivories, and Chuck Berry's Thirty Days. Goering channels Johnnie Johnson on this rollicking piece of rock and roll. Billy Flynn does a nice salute to Jody Williams on his rendition of Williams' Lucky Lou, while Johnson takes the first guitar solo on Stockyard Blues, and is featured on the opening instrumental, Cal Green's The Big Push. Wilson evokes Little Walter on a terrific instrumental K&C Boogie, with Chuck's piano helping propel the performance on, while Chuck on organ does a nice take on Booker T & the MGs Time Is Tight.

Throughout, Taylor and Inness provide a firm, supple foundation, whether the performance is an easy rocking shuffle groove or a moody, slow blues, like Floyd Jones You Can't Live Long. In addition to the superb traditionally oriented Chicago blues here, this benefits from the mining of lesser known blues recordings that stand out compared to much of what passes for blues today. Hopefully it will not be another six or so years before Barrelhouse Chuck and Kim Wilson return to the studio.

I purchased this release. Here is Barrelhouse Chuck with Billy Flynn and Catherine Davis.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Mark Hummel Leads Memorable Little Walter Tribute CD

Mark Hummel has put together blues harmonica tributes for quite sometime and a live concert recording that Blind Pig has just issued Remembering Little Walter, has Hummel and fellow harmonica masters Billy Boy Arnold, Charlie Musselwhite, James Harman and Sugar Ray Norcia each handling a couple of vocals as well as share vocals and harmonica on a closing “My Babe. They are backed by an outstanding band of Little Charlie Baty and Nathan James on guitar, RW Grigsby on bass and Junior Core on drums. 

You know this band is good when one notices Core’s marvelous support behind Hummel on the opening I Got To Go, as well as the guitars light support behind Musselwhite on Just a Feeling. Then there is the terrific shuffle groove behind Arnold on You’re So Fine, with Baty and James channeling Robert Lockwood Jr and Luther Tucker as Core drives things in the manner of Fred Below. Performances by Harman and Norcia are similarly well played, paced, and enjoyable.

Musselwhite, along with Arnold, were the only of the participants to have actually known Little Walter, but it is impossible to play blues harmonica today without being touched by Walter’s mastery and the other three all have assimilated Walter’s style while creating their own blues visions which are quite evident on the consistently excellent renditions of Little Walter’s classic blues recordings presented on this exceptional blues recording.

I received this from Blind Pig. Here is Mark Hummel doing a Little Walter tune.


Saturday, July 13, 2013

Scott Hamilton's Remembering Billie Holiday

Veteran tenor saxophonist Scott Hamilton’s new album Remembering Billie (Blue Duchess) is a delightful set of ten performances of songs recorded by Billie Holiday. Hamilton had hoped to do a Holiday tribute with Ruby Braff but it ended being something else. The present recording was produced by Hamilton’s friend Duke Robillard and has Hamilton supported by pianist Tim Ray; bassist Tim Ray and drummer Jim Gwin. On two selections, Robillard contributes rhythmic acoustic guitar in the manner of Freddie Green. His backing trio provides supple, swinging support to Hamilton along with occasional solos. 

Hamilton’s saxophone playing is rooted in the swing era’s tenor sax masters such as Lester Young and Ben Webster (and I suggest Benny Carter as another source).Hamilton displays a warm and robust sound with a slight vibrato and a definite melodic flair and his playing most likely will appeal to fans of such modern tenor masters Buddy Tate, Houston Person, Al Cohn, Zoot Sims and Gene Ammons. While the songs on Remembering Billie all were part of Lady Day’s recorded repertoire, most of the performances only hint at Holiday’s recordings. The renditions of Fooling Myself (with a lovely arco bass solo from Zinno) and Good Morning Heartache (with a solo that is structured somewhat on Holiday’s vocal and a nice restrained piano solo) perhaps evoke her recordings more than the other performances.

Throughout this album Hamilton does a wonderful job of musical story telling with his swinging, lyrical playing throughout from the opening of When You’re Smiling to the closing notes of If Dreams Come True. Scott hamilton’s Remembering Billie is a splendid celebration of the music of one of jazz’s finest singers and iconic personalities.

I received a review copy from a publicist for this release. Here is Scott Hamilton in performance.

Saturday, July 06, 2013

Paul Gabriel's What’s the Chance …

Paul Gabriel has been a regional treasure in New England, who in a career that spans over 40 years, has appeared on three albums by legendary singer/songwriter Harry Chapin, played slide guitar on Rory Block’s Grammy-nominated album, Mama’s Blues, toured with Michael Bolton and recorded and toured with his several of his own bands. His friend (and mentor), Duke Robillard has produced Gabriel’s new release, What’s the Chance … on Shining Stone Records. On this he steps into the spotlight on an album of 13 tracks that showcases him as a distinctive, bluesy guitarist, a talented songwriter and a master of diverse musical styles.
On What's the Chance…, Gabriel is backed by a core band of Billy Bileca on bass, Nick Longo on drums and Larry “Buzzy” Fallstrom on keyboards. Special guests on the new album include Duke Robillard on guitars and background vocals; former Butterfield Blues Band alumnus Mark Naftalin on piano; Bruce Bears on keyboards; Steve Pastir on guitar; and the Roomful of Blues Horns consisting of Rich Lataille on alto/tenor sax, Mark Earley on tenor/baritone sax, and Doug Woolverton on trumpet. With the exception of Chris Kenner’s R&B classic Something You Got, and bassist Bileca’s C.M.C., Gabriel penned the songs on this.
As Gabriel observes, he first saw Duke Robillard perform with a new band, Roomful of Blues, around 1968 and Duke became an influence and a mentor. Gabriel’s music certainly will not provide any surprises for those familiar with early Roomful or Duke and The Pleasure Kings. Gabriel’s Old Time Ball, is a jump blues clearly derived from T-Bone Walker’s T-Bone Shuffle, and is sung and played with a nice graceful swing. Ride, Ride, Ride is an appealing bluesy rocker while the title track is a reflective rootsy R&B tinged ballad. 328 Chauncy Street is a punchy, jazzy instrumental with Robillard and Bears (on organ) taking solos before Gabriel comes in swinging with a bit of buzz-saw in his tone. Baby I Wish is a nice uptown blues original with a touch of Percy Mayfield’s Tangerine and Brunswick recordings in the arrangement with Bears and Gabriel taking tough solo breaks. 

Devil’s Daughter is an original lyric about a gold digger, set to a melody derived from Nobody Knows You When Your Down and Out, with Mark Naftalin on piano, followed by a fine original jump blues “All That Time Gone.” Bileca’s C.M.C. provides Gabriel to display a jazzier side of his guitar playing he as navigates the changes of this interesting original. While the title of Roomful of Blues, may be inspired by the band, the song is not a homage to the band. The song has a base line that evokes Bill Withers’ Ain’t No Sunshine When She’s Gone. Gabriel, having been lied to once again, pleads to be taken from that room full of blues. Rich Lataille takes a marvelous tenor sax solo on what may be the standout track on this album. Fine At’Tire, is a change of pace as Gabriel only backed by Naftalin’s piano, recalls a visit to Memphis.
A relaxed shuffle Spoda Be, closes out What's the Chance … , ending a varied and most appealing blues recording with some roots extensions. Strong material, solid playing mixed with the leader’s warm, heartfelt vocals makes for an impressive release.
A publicist supplied me with a review copy. Here is Paul Gabriel in performance.

Friday, July 05, 2013

Candye Kane Is Coming Out Swingin’

Candye Kane has a new album Coming Out Swingin’ on VizzTone that stands out in an already substantial catalog of music she has produced. Some have may regarded her as a novelty when she made her first recordings years ago, but she long ago established herself with her personality voice and heart. This latest album features her soul mate Laura Chavez on guitar and co-writer on most of the songs along with a terrific band that includes the rhythm section of Fred Rautmann on drums and Kennan Shaw on bass along with Leo Dombecki on organ, Sue Palmer on piano, Johnny Viau on saxophone, April West on trombone and Billy Watson on harmonica. Laura Chavez and her former husband Thomas Yearsley produced this and Yearsley adds some acoustic bass on some songs.

With drummer Rautmann doing a credible evoking of Gene Krupa’s drumming on Sing, Sing, Sing,  Ms. Kane launches into the title cut, an exhilarating jump blues with terrific horn playing and slashing guitar from Ms. Chavez who is exceptional throughout this recording. The repertoire is varied allowing Ms. Kane to show herself equally able at handling a ballad (Rick Estrin’s What Love Can Do) as belting out the title track. Chavez adds a rockabilly tinge to the rocking reworking of Benny Carter’s Rock Me To Sleep, while Kane and Chavez demonstrate their ability to write witty songs I’m The Reason You Drink along with one of the most remarkable lyrics I have heard in a long time, Invisible Woman. This latter songs contrasts wealthy and celebrity women that might grace a cover of a tabloid or be on a television reality show to those who are not thin or young or rich enough to be worshipped. These are invisible woman that everybody looks through. The stark simplicity and directness of the lyrics contributes to the potency of this remarkable performance. 

I have had the pleasure to see Candye Kane perform several times and always been impressed by her warmth as a person as well as the powerfulness of her music which has grown with her experience as a performer. This is heard in Coming Out Swingin’, which is an extraordinary recording by a remarkable singer and performer. 

I received this from the VizzTone.  Here is a clip of the terrific Candye Kane and Band.

Thursday, July 04, 2013

Zoot Sims' Compatability

Delmark recently acquired the Jump Records label and the first result of this acquisition is a Jump CD release under the name of Zoot Sims, Compatability. This is a reissue of what was a four-song, 10 inch LP from 1955 that was originally issued under the name of trumpeter Hall Daniels who composed two of the songs and arranged two standards. In 1977, Zim Records issued a ten track LP that added six alternate takes under the rubric of the Zoot Sims/ Dick Nash Octet. The present Jump Records reissue adds an additional two alternate takes and a brief bit of studio chatter. 

In addition to leader Daniels, he participants on these recordings included tenor saxophonist Sims, trombonist Dick Nash, baritone saxophonist Bob Gordon (who died in an automobile crash shortly after the 1955 recording sessions), guitarist Tony Rizzo, pianist Paul Atkerson, bassist Rolly Bundock and drummer Jack Sperling. The liner booklet reproduces producer Clive Acker’s 1977 liner notes with brief biographical information.

Daniels certainly provided attractive, clean arrangements for these swinging, ‘cool’ sounding octet recordings. At the time of the 1977 reissue, Sims had become a fairly prominent tenor saxophonist so its not surprising he shared billing with Nash then. His opening solo on the “The Way You Look Tonight displays the fluidity of his own distillation of Lester Young’s sound. Daniels' arrangements provides nice setting for Sims lead work. Trombonist Nash is well featured on Nash-Ville, which also has notable solos by Rizzo and Gordon. The ballad, You Don’t Know What Love Is features some exquisite playing from Nash along with Sims, while Gordon’s baritone plays a prominent backing role. The title track is a lively bop-flavored number with pianist Atkerson taking a nice solo before Daniels employs a mute and then Gordon digs in with authority. 

There is certainly much to enjoy of these performances and the alternate takes provide interesting contrasts to the originally issued tracks. Gordon, for example, is more prominent on the first alternate of The Way You Look Tonight. Compatability is an engaging recording whose the performances hold up over fifty years after being waxed. A final note – the album title Compatability may seem to be incorrectly spelled, but that is how it is spelled on the CD cover.

My review copy was provided by Delmark.

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Some Hot Jazz and Blues Festivals

We are in the middle of the Festival season and there are any number of festivals of interest for Blues and Jazz lovers upcoming. As this issue gets circulated the annual Portland Waterfront Blues Festival and Mississippi Valley Blues Festival will have likely wrapped up as will the major Jazz Festivals in Victoria, Vancouver, Edmonton, Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal in Canada. This is a very selective list of festivals that include two I will be attending. First, three blues festivals, and then three jazz festivals.

John Primer will be laying down some real blues with no filler at the Pennsylvania and
Riverfront Blues Festival. Photo is from the 2005 Pocono Blues Festival. © Ron Weinstock
The 3rd Pennsylvania Blues Festival takes place at the Blue Mountain Ski Resort in Palmerton Pennsylvania, from Friday evening July 26. through Sunday July 28. Friday evening will feature the Lehigh Valley Blues Showcase with performers including Bev Conklin and Georgie Fame. There is a buffet available in addition to the music.  Saturday July 27’s line-up has performances by John Primer, Bonerama, Sista Monica, Guy Davis, Robert Randolph presents the Slide Brothers featuring Calvin Cooke, Chuck Campbell, Darick Campbell and Aubrey Ghent; and Robert Randolph and the Family Band.  OnSunday July 28, the lineup includes Alexis P Suter with both a gospel and a blues show; Eddie Shaw and the Wolf Gang; Johnny Rawls; Electro-Fi Canadian Blues Showcase with Harrison Kennedy, Diana Braithwaite and Chris Whitley; Ivan Neville and Dumpstaphunk, Ruthie Foster, and Bobby Rush (performing acoustic and full show sets). For more information (including directions and tickets) check out Blue Mountain’s website, I will be there.

James Cotton will be at the Riverfront Blues Festival
Photo from 2007 Western Maryland Blues Festival. © Ron Weinstock
The Riverfront Blues Festival takes place at Tubman-Garrett Riverfront Park, Wilmington Delaware August 2 to August 4. The  lineup on August 2 includes John Primer, Moreland and Arbuckle, Lil Ronnie & the Grand Dukes and The James Cotton Band. On Saturday August 3 the performers include Eden Brent, Jimmy D. Lane, Eric Lindell and the Sunliners featuring Anson Funderburgh; and Rod Piazza and the Mighty Flyers Reunion Band. The lineup for Sunday August 4 includes The Lee Boys, Mac Arnold and Plate Full O’ Blues; and Elvin Bishop. For information on tickets and other matters visit

The Heritage Music Blues Festival takes place in Wheeling WV on August 9 to August 11. Blues highlights of Friday August 9 include Lionel Young and the Golden State-Lone Star Blues Revue featuring Anson Funderburgh, Little Charlie Baty, & Mark Hummel. Performers on Saturday, August 10 include Little G Weevil (IBC solo winner), Joe Louis Walker and Dr John. Sunday highlights include IBC band winner Selwyn Birchwood, Harrison Kennedy and Ruthie Foster. For more information, check out

Gregory Porter will be at the Newport, Chicago and Detroit Jazz Festivals.
My photo of him is from the Mid-Atlantic Jazz Festival
The legendary Newport Jazz Festival returns to the Rhode Island community Friday August 2 through Sunday August 4. Highlight of this year’s festival maybe the Wayne Shorter 80th Birthday Celebration and Chick Corea will be leading an All Star new band. It opens Friday night, August 2, Natalie Cole and the Bill Charlap Trio with Special Guest Freddie Cole.

Espernaza Spalding (seen at 2009 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival) is at Newport this summer.
Photo © Ron Weinstock
The line-up on Saturday, August 3 includes Wayne Shorter's 80th Birthday Celebration: Wayne Shorter Quartet featuring Danilo Pérez, John Patitucci & Brian Blade plus special guest Herbie Hancock; Esperanza Spalding's Radio Music Society, Michel Camilo Sextet; Terence Blanchard Quintet; Robert Glasper Experiment; Gregory Porter; Bill Charlap Trio with special guests Bob Wilber & Anat CohenEdmar Castañeda with special guest Andrea Tierra; Lew Tabackin Quartet with Randy Brecker, Peter Washington & Lewis Nash; Ray Anderson Pocket Brass Band and more. 
The great Eddie Palmieri will be at the Newport Jazz Festival
He is pictured at the 2007 Duke Ellington (now DC) Jazz Festival. Photo © Ron Weinstock
The line-up on Sunday, August 4 includes Chick Corea & The Vigil with Christian McBride, Tim Garland, Marcus Gilmore, & Charles Altura; Eddie Palmieri Salsa Orchestra; Dizzy Gillespie™ Big Band under the direction of Paquito D'Rivera; Joshua Redman Quartet; Roy Haynes Fountain of Youth Band; Steve Coleman Projects: Five Elements, Talea Ensemble and Duo with David Bryant; Jim Hall with Scott Colley, Lewis Nash and special guest Julian Lage; Dirty Dozen Brass Band; Jon Batiste & Stay Human  and more.

For more information on the Newport Jazz Festival (including travel pacakges through radio station WBGO), visit

Christian McBride leads his quartet at the
Chicago Jazz Festival. Photo from 2008
Duke Ellington Jazz Festival.
Photo © Ron Weinstock
Chicago and Detroit both host major Jazz Festivals over Labor Day Weekend. I will be attending the Chicago Jazz Festival that starts Thursday August 29 and runs through Sunday September 1. The Detroit Jazz Festival starts Friday August 30 and runs through labor Day, September 2.

There is quite of range of music at the Chicago Jazz Festival from the trad jazz of Fat babies to the cutting edge sounds of Hamid Drake (who is the Festival’s Artist In Residence), Fast Citizens and Jack DeJohnette who will lead all star special band that with Muhal Richard Abrams, Roscoe Mitchell and Henry Threagill. The Chicago Jazz Festival is a free festival.

While the bulk of the Chicago Jazz Festival takes place at Millennium Park, on Thursday, August 29 performances take place at several locations including the Chicago Cultural Center at, 78 E. Washington with performers including Fat Babies, and the Harrison Bankhead Sextet. At Roosevelt University’s Ganz Hall at 430 S. Michigan Ave.there will be a 5:00PM performance of Hamid Drake’s Chicago Trio with Ernest Dawkins and Harrison Bankhead. That evening at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park (201 E. Randolph St.) is Made in Chicago: World Class Jazz -Jack DeJohnette: Special Legends Edition Chicago featuring, Muhal Richard Abrams, Larry Gray, Roscoe Mitchell and Henry Threadgill. 

Evan Christopher (see at d.b.a's in New Orleans) will bring his marvelous clarinet to the Chicago
Jazz Festival. Photo © Ron Weinstock
Starting Friday, August 30 performances are at Millennium Park. In the afternoon one can see bassist’s Christopher McBride’s Quartet;  the Ben Paterson Organ Quartet; the Mike Smith Quartet, and Hamid Drake with Michael Zerang, Eigen Aoki and Tsukasa drummers directed by Tatsu Aoki. Highlights of the evening performances Wadada Leo Smith’s Ten Freedom Summers, performed by WLS’s Golden Quartet and Pacifica Red Coral with video artist Jesse Gilbert; and Charles Lloyd and Friends featuring Bill Frisell.

On Saturday August 31, afternoon performers include Hamid Drake Quartet with Kidd Jordan, William Parker and Cooper-Moore; Ernie Krivda Quartet; Nick Mazzarella Trio and the Erin McDougald Quartet. Evening performances feature Stafford James String and Percussion Ensemble featuring M’BOOM; Gregory Porter; Rudresh Mahanthappa’s GAMAK and Jason Moran: Fats Waller Dance Party. 

Sunday, September 1 afternoon performers include Fast Citizens;  Evan Christopher; and Fareed Haque and Tony Monaco; The evening performers include the legendary Jimmy Heath Quartet with Jeb Patton; Hamid Drake & Bindu: Reggaeology; Robert Glasper Trio; and Donald Harrison and The Congo Square Nation with special guest Willie Pickens.

Danilo Pérez is the Artist-in-Residence at this year’s Detroit Jazz Festival. This is also a free festival The Detroit Jazz Festival occupies two million square feet of downtown Detroit – from Hart Plaza on the riverfront, three blocks north to beautiful Campus Martius Park. There are two stages on the North end and three stages at Hart Plaza, plus a Jazz Talk Tent. While a free festival, the Festival offers VIP passes for donations.
The Cookers will be among the acts performing at the Detroit Jazz Festival
The Festival line-up includes performances by Danilo Pérez including his Panama Suite and other works for a large orchestra; David Murray Big Band with Macy Gray; Ahmad Jamal; Joshua Redman with Strings; Shelia Jordan with Strings featuring the Alan Broadbent Trio; Charles Lloyd Quartet with Bill Frisell; McCoy Tyner Trio with special guest Savion Glover; Saxophone Summit – Joe Lovano, David Liebman, Ravi Coltrane; Gregory Porter; Bill Frisell – Lennon Project; Eddie Daniels and Roger Kellaway, with Celo-Duke at the Roadside; Geri Allen and the Detroit Homecoming Band; Danilo Pérez and Geri Allen Acoustic Piano Duo; Jon Faddis, Jesse Davis & the Bill Charlap Trio; Tribute to Detroit’s Pepper Adams – Gary Smulyan, Howard Johnson, Frank Basile; Lee Konitz Quartet; Freddie Cole; The Cookers featuring Billy Harper, Eddie Henderson, George Cables, Cecil McBee, Billy Hart, David Weiss; and more. 

The day to day schedule had not been posted when I prepared this overview. For more information on the Detroit jazz Festival, visit

September brings the annual Monterey Jazz Festival which your editor and publisher highlights and early October brings the annual king Biscuit Blues Festival which I hope to highlight in the next issue.

Monday, July 01, 2013

Ronnie Earl and the Broadcasters - Just For Today

Ronnie Earl’s new Stony Plain album, Just For Today was recorded at three different performances with his band that includes Dave Limina on keyboards, Jim Mouradian on bass and Lorne Entress on drums. Nicholas Tabarias guest on guitar on two selections and Diane Blues sings on the rendition of I'd Rather Go Blind. Most of the songs heard here are by Ronnie and members of the band although their is the afore-mentioned song that Etta James made famous, John Coltrane’s Equinox, and the blues standard Ain’t Nobody’s Business.

Earl’s reputation is among the finest living guitarists in the blues. That is because of his phrasing, control of tone and crafting of his solos that is constantly displayed throughout the 13 tracks, whether the opening The Big Train, a Bill Doggett type shuffle with Earl’s guitar coming across like a cross between Billy Butler and Chicago legend Jody Williams, Blues For Celie, which opens with a bar or two that conjures up Robert Lockwood, Jr. (whom Earl recorded with) before Earl takes us on through fresh twists and turns. The tone poem, Miracle, is an Earl original while Rush Hour, one of the tracks on which Tabarias guests, is a shuffle with strong organ from Limina before Earl channels the great Otis Rush, one of the biggest influences on Earl (and who Earl calls his mentor).

Vernice’s Boogie, a rollicking, boogie woogie, showcases Limina, while the group give a low-key tinge to the John Coltrane blues Equinox, with Limina laying a rich base for Earl’s deft and precise single note runs. A lengthy Ain’t Nobody’s Business opens with Limina’s down in the alley piano before Earl sings the lyrics on his guitar with shifting to organ. This is followed by the concise, rocking Robert Nighthawk Stomp, which evokes the Delta and Chicago blues legend with some electrifying guitar runs and a rollicking piano break. 

Diane Blue gives a first-rate rendition of the Etta James classic as Earl sympathetically backs her strong singing and taking a short solo with his use of tone standing out. As good as Earl is, an album of blues guitar instrumentals can sometimes be (no matter how good the music is) difficult to listen to in one sitting (I cite as examples, Albert Collins first few albums as well as an Earl Hooker label for Blue Thumb), so that a few more guest vocals may have remedied this. Not to say there is any fault with any of the tracks on this and the CD’s programming does try to provide variety in material. Ronnie Earl is a brilliant guitarist who plays with so much imagination, soul and fire. Just For Today is the latest addition to Earl’s very distinguished body of recordings.

I received my review copy from a publicist. Here is Ronnie Earl and the Broadcasters performing The Big Train.