Wednesday, April 09, 2014

J.T. Lauritsen - Play By The Rules

Blues has become an international music and a recording by Norwegian harmonica-accordion player (Jan Tore) J.T. Lauritsen, Play By The Rules (Hunters Records) illustrates this. For nearly 20 years he has led The Buckshot Hunters who have had several well received recordings. The present recording was recorded at sessions in Memphis and Oslo, Norway and has appearances by Victor Wainwright, Anson Funderburgh and others on various tracks. Greg Gumpel or Willie C. Campbell on bass, Wainwright on keyboards and Josh Roberts are common to the Memphis recordings while Atle Rakvåg on bass, and Ian Frederick Johannessen on guitar are on the Oslo sessions. Jon Grimsby is drummer throughout while guitarist Arnfinn Tørrisen and keyboardist Paul Wagnberg are heard on both sessions.

Lauritsen impresses on this marvelously varied group of performances. One would be surprised listening to him sing to discover English is not his first language. He sings in a natural,relaxed fashion and the supporting musicians do a bang-up job in backing him on some nice covers and originals. William Bell’s Everyday Will Be Like A Holiday starts this recording off on a nice southern soul vein followed by the Crescent City groove on Lauritsen’s original Next Time, with  zydeco flavor provided by the leader’s accordion with Wainwright taking a rollicking piano solo. Te title track is a nice slow blues with Josh Roberts adding slide guitar. Billy Gibbons on harp joins Lauritsen on a easy rocking shuffle rendition of Walter Horton’s Need My Babe, taken as a medium shuffle which is followed by Wainwright’s Memphis Boogie, that he gets off to a rollicking start followed by Roberts crisp solo and then more boogie woogie piano before the leader steps up.

We are taken back to New Orleans on Big Joe Maher’s Ever Since The World Began, which then followed up by a fine take on the Cookie and the Cupcakes swamp pop classic Mathilda. Like the rest of this recording, it is wonderfully played and sung at the right tempo. Anson Funderburgh adds strong guitar to Find My Little Girl as Lauritsen sings about going back to Dallas, Texas to find his little girl while plays rhythm guitar on the atmospheric take on Gillian Welch’s Valley of Tears.

The performances on Play By The Rules never come off as hurried or frantic and there is a genuine soulful quality to J.T. Lauritsen’s vocals that make this release well worth noting.

I received my review copy from a publicist. Here is a video of J.T. Lauritsen.

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