Monday, March 31, 2014

Phill Fest's Projeto B.F.C.

Guitarist Phill Fest, son of bossa nova pioneer Manfredo Fest, has issued Projeto B.F.C., which explores jazz and bossa from high energy samba and baiao rhythms, to subtle bossa gentleness. B.F.C. refers to the Brazilian-Florida connection (as Phill has been in South Florida for over a decade). He is backed by pianist Robert Prester, Brazilian drummer Ronie Martinez and bassist Russ Howard with Hendrik Meurkens adding his harmonica virtuosity to several selections. The material includes originals by Phill, pianist Robert Prester, drummer Martinez and genre defining compositions by Manfredo Fest.

A couple of short percussion features by Martinez open and close this lively album. Fest’s own Florianoplis was previously recorded by his father and is a brisk and lively number that displays his fleet guitar playing backed by the lively accented group. Kenny Drew Jr paid tribute to Manfredo with Samba De Cayo Hueso, and Meurkens adds his chromatic harp virtuosity to the scintillating solos by Prester and Fest. One also has to acknowledge the crisp and lively support of Howard and Martinez here (and he takes a short solo break on this selection) and throughout. On Baiao Da Amizade, there is much charm in the interplay between Fest and Prester (who overdubs on acoustic guitars and vocalizes) before Howard solos.

Meurkens is also present on Manfredo’s lovely Clearwater Sunset, with Phill adding lovely guitar against the light swaying rhythm. Prester’s Commonwealth Ave opens with Gershwin-esque piano prior to Fest taking it into another gear on another spirited performance. Manfredo’s “Dig This Samba” is another lively performance that has Meurkens once again joining the group for another marvelous performance on a recording of Brazilian jazz that consistently delights listeners.

I received my review copy from a publicist. Here Phill Fest and group perform Manfredo's Dig This Samba.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Walter Wolfman Washington Howlin' Live At DBA New Orleans

More than a few years ago, Walter Wolfman Washington and the Roadmasters had a limited edition live recording. Also several sets from the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival have been released through JazzFest Live. Now Frenchman Street Records has issued a new live recording (and also the first official Wolfman and the Roadmasters release in a number of years), Howlin' Live At DBA New Orleans (Frenchmen Street Records), capturing them at their regular Frenchmen Street club gig..

  Photo © Ron Weinstock 

The Frenchmen Street club, d.b.a. is one of Wolfman’s musical homes and it is nice to capture what is likely a typical night of soulful blues and funk. In addition to his guitar and vocals, he is backed by his long-time bassist Jack Cruz; drummer, Wayne Maureau; saxophonist Jimmy Carpenter; and Antonio Gambrell on trumpet with rapper Blac Roi joining on one track.

Listening to Wolfman and the Roadmasters run through songs from over two decades of recording and longer performing, one is impressed by the tight, if occasionally ragged sound. The two horns of Carpenter and Gambrell provide punch with their riffs and solos while Wolfman, with his gravelly blues shouting and jazz-inflected blues guitar is a true original, as he sings I’m Tip Toeing Through; Girl I Want to Dance; Blue Moon Risin’; and Stop and Think. He also is able to mix his graveling growl with a gospel shout on the rendition of Bobby Bland’s Ain’t That Lovin’ You.

Nicely recorded, Howlin' Live At DBA New Orleans” is not simply a nice souvenir for those who see (or have seen) him live, but also solid representation of Wolfman's music. Recommended.

I purchased this from the Louisiana Music Factory, Here is a video of Wolfman live.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

The British Ace Records label has been reissuing numbers reissues from the catalogues and archives of Modern Records and its affiliates. Among its recent reissues is Beating the Petrillo Ban: The Late December 1947 Modern Sessions, a two-CD compilation with 49 selections that were recorded in late December 1947 as part of the label’s efforts to stock up on recordings in anticipation of the Recording Ban that the American Federation of Musicians were going to start at the start of the 1948 New Year. Like other labels, the Bihari Brothers' Modern Records engaged in a flurry of recording sessions. Between November and December, Modern recorded almost 130 masters by 16 different artists.

The two discs of Beating The Petrillo Ban contain 49 performances from between December 17 and New Year’s Eve of 1947, and while some of the recordings were issued, many were not at the time, nor have they been reissued in prior Ace releases. Tony Rounce, in his liner notes in the accompanying booklet, notes that 80% of the selections have previously never been issued previously (some are alternate takes of recordings that were issued on 78 or on various LP or CD reissues.

The opening performances are by an early vocal group, The Ebonaires. One of Modern’s biggest stars in its early days was Hadda Brookes and there are three sessions (12 selections) by her including instrumentals and vocals (There is a nice The Best Things In Life Are Free) in a Nat King Cole Trio vein with sophisticated piano and deft guitar accompaniment along with her vocals. This serves as a nice introduction to Brookes for whom Ace has several reissues of.

Drummer Al ‘Cake’ Wichard is heard on two sessions (12 selections) of jump blues that showcase shouters Duke Henderson and Jimmy Witherspoon who are both in fine form. Henderson’s “Gravels in My Pillow” and Witherspoon’s T.B. Blues are terrific examples of their music here along with a hot instrumental Cake Jumps. Spoon is also heard on a nice interpretation of That’s Your Little Red Wagon Ace also has a reissue of titles recorded under Wichard’s name with more Henderson and Witherspoon. There may be duplication of songs, but as noted, most of the selections here are unissued or alternate takes.

Another jump blues artist was Guitarist Gene Phillips heard with his Rhythm Aces as he tells his “Snuff Dipping Mama” to stop snuffing and button up her bottom lip. Its a nice band and Phillips clean single note picking is featured on “Gene’s Guitar Blues,” a reworking of “Floyd’s Guitar Blues.” Another session in this vein was with saxophonist Little Willie Jackson. Jackson was part of Joe Liggins Band and Modern signed Jackson who recorded with The Honeydrippers minus Liggins. The four numbers range from a jumping “Little Willie’s Boogie”, the sweet instrumental “Shasta” (similar in tone to Liggins’ “Tanya”) and the swinging sweet ballad “Baby.”

The Art Shackelford Sextette is led by a guitarist about which Tony Rounce advises little is known. His guitar leads the pleasant swing-based instrumentals that includes a rendition of the early New Orleans standard Jazz Me Blues and an untitled blues instrumental that Ace titled Beatin’ The Ban for its release here. Butch Stone was vocalist with Les Browns’ Band of Renown and heard on songs in the vein of Louis Jordan, Fats Waller and others including Baby Face and Waller’s Your Feets Too Big retitled as My Feets Too Big). As Rounce observes, Stone wisecracks and ad-libs his way on these performances in the zany manner of Harry ‘The Hipster’ Gibson.

The final performances on this compilation are the gospel songs from Ida Mae Littlejohn. Rounce observes her music was informed by Sister Rosetta Tharpe and Arizona Dranes, "Who both employed the same animated vocal style." Her fervent renditions of Lonesome Road Blues (which you have to walk all alone’), He’ll Make The Way (I know the Lord will make a way”); and the rollicking Go Devil Go (with a vocal chorus) have piano and guitar as accompaniment.

Beating the Petrillo Ban: The Late December 1947 Modern Sessions is another outstanding Ace compilation from the Modern Archives. It is a varied collection of a diverse group of performers and music. Presentation is up to Ace’s usual high standards with Tony Rounce’s liner notes in the accompanying booklet providing background on the second Petrillo band and the recordings contained here which are presented here in the order of recording.

I purchased this. Here is a video of Hadda Brookes (or Brooks).

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Blue Lunch's Special - 30th Anniversary Deluxe Edition

30 years is a pretty long time for any band to hang together, and while some members may come and go, Cleveland’s Blue Lunch has kept doing it with a mix of jump blues in the vein of early Roomful of Blues and Chicago blues. Rip Cat Records has just issued their Special - 30th Anniversary Deluxe Edition, compiled from their six CDs. The core personnel appear to be Bob Frank on guitar and vocals; Pete London on harmonica and vocals; Raymond DeForrest on bass and one lead vocal; Scott Flowers or Mike Janowitz on drums; Mike Rubin on trumpet; Mike Sands on piano, Bob Michael on trombone and Norman Tischler or Keith McKelley on tenor sax. The 16 tracks include live recordings are included along with studio ones with 8 originals and 8 covers.

An instrumental by Frank, Sideswiped, kicks this CD off with a funky groove, tight horns and solid guitar and solid sax from McKelley. Next up is Frank’s Cold Day Down Below, with a second line groove and more tough sax (this time from Tischler). Skin Bones and Hair, is a terrific T-Bone Walker styled shuffle from Frank with some nice T-Bone inspired playing from him. London handles the vocal on his hot rocker, Cuttin’ Up, where Tischler rips a terrific tenor sax solo as Frank chords under him and the rhythm section swings hard with some more T-Bone inspired playing from Frank on a live rendition that got the dancers jitter-bugging hard. London’s The Fidget showcases his strong harmonica playing set against the rocking rhythm and riffing horns. Best I Can is a tough-sounding slow blues.

The choice of covers is interesting from a lesser known Jackie Brenston number Leo the Louse; a straight cover of 60 Minute Man; and The Five Royales amusing Monkey Hips & Rice. Frank does a fairly nice rendition of Robert Lockwood’s Little Boy Blue, backed just by the rhythm section. The most surprising cover is a three tenor sax feature on Sonny Rollins’ Tenor Madness that allows McKelley to display his jazz chops with guest tenor players Christopher Burge and Tony Koussa. This is followed by the rainy night feel of The Lonely One.

London handles the vocal on the amusing cover of Ernie K-Doe’s Mother-In-Law that closes this varied and quite engaging recording by this tight and swinging, jump blues band. Special - 30th Anniversary Deluxe Edition will likely enlarge Blue Lunch’s fan base beyond the band’s Cleveland roots.

A publicist provided the review copy. Here is the late Robert Lockwood, Jr., playing with Blue Lunch.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Robert Prester's Dogtown

Robert Prester showcases his fluency and lively latin and bop styling on Commonwealth Ave. Productions, Dogtown. The Southern Florida pianist is joined by bassist Nicky Orta, drummer Ettienne Francis, with percussionist Dave Schanzer, vocalist Terezinha Valois and trumpeter Jonathan Sigel all playing on several selections. Jack Ciano replaces Francis on one track.

Prester’s Vincenzo’s Blues is a spirited original that displays his ability to craft catchy themes that the trio bring to life in a lively performance. More of the same is heard on Beneath Wind’s Shadow with Sigel’s bright trumpet complemented by Prester’s fluid piano as Schanzer adds percussive accents. The title track changes the mood and is a tight trio performance is built around an intriguing descending line that Prester and Orta improvise over. Valois’ vocals adds an additional horn voice to Toy Soldiers as well the flamenco inspired Noches de Sevilla, ( percussionist Schanzer is excellent here) that will evoke Sketches of Spain for some,

Prester composed everything but the brief rendition of Coltrane’s Giant Steps (titled Bite Size Steps) that closes this recording. Noches de Sevilla may be the standout performance here, but Dogtown thoughout is a marvelously engaging recording.

I received my review copy from a publicist.  Here is a video of Rob Prester with Phill Fest.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

A Time Machine Looking at Blues From October 1976

My 3rd installment of my blues column from the Buffalo Jazz Report, October, 1976. I mentioned the B.B. King and Muddy waters gigs the previous month, but here I have a quick review along with mentioning Buddy and Junior with Jeff Beck in the audience. I believe he opened for Fleetwood Mac at the Old War Memorial Auditorium the next night. I believe Buddy and Junior's Band was pretty much the same as on the album they did backing Memphis Slim including brother Phil Guy on guitar, A.C. Reed on sax and Buffalo native Roosevelt 'Snake' Shaw on drums. The images of the two album covers are from reissues of the Peg Leg Sam and Louisiana Red albums.

The last month has been quite good for live 'blues' in the Buffalo area. B.B. King appeared at Melody Fair, Muddy Waters at the Outside Inn in Angola, Buddy Guy and Junior Wells returned to the Belle Starr and as I write this Bobby 'Blue' Bland will appear at Kleinhans. I had a chance to see B.B. and he is the 'King of the Blues' without question. A true pro who is totally into his music and who worked·through songs associated with him like "How Blue Can You Get" and his current hit (with Bobby Bland) of "Let the Good Times Roll" as well as Leon Russell's "Hummingbird" and a fine version of "Please Send Me Someone To Love". Buddy Guy and Junior Wells were dynamite as usual. The night I saw them Jeff Beck was in the audience to see his favorite guitarist, Buddy Guy, and later sat in with the band. 
Peg Leg Sam is a veteran of the medicine show scene. A fine country blues harmonica player and singer his new album Going Train Blues (Blue Labor BL 105). accompanied by Louisiana Red, 1s a fine album demonstrating Sam's skills as a singer and entertainer. He has an earlier album on Trix which I have unfortunately, not heard. Other fine blues Ips on Blue Labor Include Louisiana Red's Sweet Blood Call (BL 104) which features marvelous country blues and original lyrics such as the fine "Death of Ealase, written about his wife who died of cancer. Sonny Terry's Robbin' the Grave (BL 101) finds Sonny without Brownie McGhee, but with friends in a fine set of spirited blues, far removed from the folkie circuit that some have associated Sonny with. Sonny plays and sings with great enthusiasm. Sonny and Brownie back Alec Seward on Late One Saturday .Evening (BL 103) which was recorded at a house party along wilh other fnends with everyone in good spirits. 

Bobo Jenkins is one of many artists playing blues in Detroit. For various reasons Bobo has recorded himself and created Big Star Records out of his own work. A worker for Chrysler for over 20 years (he recently quit). he built his own basement studio and Here I am a Fool in Love Again (BS 11-33) reflects this as it won't win audio awards. The music is great gutty city blues- not very different from Chicago blues of the 50s, played without any BS. The outstanding track of the album is "Sharecropper Blues" where working for Chrysler is compared to being a sharecropper. You will want to get this from Bobo at Big Star Recording Studio, 4228 Joy Road, Detroit, Michigan,

Monday, March 24, 2014

Mikey Junior Traveling South

Having established himself over the past decade among blues enthusiasts in the Mid-Atlantic, Mikey Junior has a new recording (his 8th CD) Traveling South Swingnation/VizzTone), that displays a maturation in his artistry. A triple threat as a singer, songwriter and harmonica player, “Traveling South” has 12 fresh performances that is marvelously produced by Dave Gross (who plays guitar); the backing back also includes Dean Shot on guitar; Jeremy Baum on keyboards; Matt Raymond on bass; and Michael Bram on drums.

From the opening title track, Mikey Junior’s vocals and harmonica display a presence and authority that Gross’ production enhances. Listening to several of the selections, one hears echoes of a Billy Boy Arnold Vee-Jay recording with the grooves and tremolo in the backing of Morning On My Way, while elsewhere some of the guitar riffs and solos echo Ike Turner’s work on Federal. Gross did the recording and handled the mix on the twelve performances here and like Mikey Junior on harmonica, has a concern for detail and tone that is striking throughout.

Harp fans certainly will dig Mikey Junior’s fat tone (including some strong chromatic playing). Then there is his strong delivery of the lyrics of  excellent originals, mostly about cheating lovers and heart-break. All is captured in the marvelous engineering of these nuanced performances. While well-grounded in the blues tradition, Mikey Junior brings his own voice for a terrific Traveling South.

I received my review copy from VizzTone. It is scheduled to be released tomorrow. Here is a Fall 2013 video of Mikey Junior performing Traveling South.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Tenth DC Jazz Festival June 24-29

Trombone Shorty will be one of the featured acts at 2014 DC Jazz Festival. Photo © Ron Weinstock
The Tenth DC Jazz Festival will bring a wide range of jazz to Washington DC June 24-29. First known as the Duke Ellington Jazz Festival, the festival changed its name a few years ago. This year the Festival also moves to later in June. 
Helen Sung will be part of a salute of Women In Jazz
The Festival takes place in a number of venues in the Nation’s Capital over this period. Once again The Hamilton Live, a few blocks from the White House, will feature a wide range of artists over the Festival span. Located at 1600 14th Street, NW, Performers at the Hamilton Live will include Paquito D’Rivera, The Dizzy Gillespie Afro-Cuban Experience, Snarky Puppy, Brass-A-Holics, Etienne Charles and Rudresh Mahanthappa, and a salute to Women in Jazz with rising stars Tia Fuller and Helen Sung. Also, the Roy Hargrove Quintet will be there for a Prelude Kickoff Concert, June 21.

Frederick Yonnet. Photo © Ron Weinstock
There will be three days of performances at Yards Park at the Capital Riverfront. This is a follow-up to last year’s highly successful show at Kastles Stadium with The Roots. Fans will enjoy jazz at the Capitol Riverfront overlooking the Anacostia River where there will be wine and beer tastings, chef demonstrations and a marketplace. Performers for Jazz at the Riverfront include Trombone Shorty, Gregory Porter, Rebirth Brass Band, Yasiin Bey (aka Mos Def) and very special guests, vocalist Akua Allrich and harmonica virtuoso Frédéric Yonnet. 

The Festival Also promotes Jazz in the ‘Hoods that takes place in over 40 venues with more than 80 performances in 21 neighborhoods around the city. Featured partners include The Howard Theatre, Bohemian Caverns, CapitalBop D.C.’s Jazz Loft Series, East River Jazz, the National Gallery of Arts Sculpture Garden, and Late Night at Loews Madison, among other venues. Artists include Marc Cary, Corcoran Holt, Lafayette Gilchrest, Allyn Johnson, Orrin Evans, Sharón Clark, Sin Miedo, Matana Roberts, and many more. 
Also taking place will be a program, Dave Brubeck Reimagined, at the Sixth and I Historic Synagogue. Renowned pianist Cyrus Chestnut and his quartet will bring unique interpretations of the music of Dave Brubeck. There will also be the annual Jazz ‘n Families Fun Days at the Phillips Collection that celebrates the synergy between jazz and the visual arts, with performances in the Phillips Collection’s music room and auditorium by more than a dozen regional artists and youth ensembles. Performers will include Rochelle Rice, Noble Jolley, Herman Burney and the Jazzin’ at Sitar Ensemble, Trio Caliente, Kayla Waters, and Tony Martucci 
Orrin Evans will be one of many performers as part of Jazz in the ‘Hoods

As can be seen, this is quite a line-up of performers. There will also be a variety of educational programs taking place at this time as well. For more information (including the festival schedule when it is released), visit www.dcjazzfest. org.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Pennsylvania Blues Festival Celebates 23 Years Of Pocono Blues

James Cotton at 2007 Western Maryland Blues Festival - Photo © Ron Weinstock
The 4th Pennsylvania Blues Festival celebrates 23 years of blues in the Pocono Mountains, July 25-27 at Blue Mountain Ski Area & Resort's Valley - at the base of Blue Mountain with 1 wide spectrum of real blues acts two covered stages. Headlining this year’s festival are Ronnie Earl & The Broadcasters; The James Cotton Blues Band and C.J. Chenier & the Red Hot Lousiana Band.

The Festival starts on Friday night with PA Blues Fest Showcase with The BC COMBO featuring Bev Conklin, Slam Allen, Mikey Junior, Joe Mac & Lonnie Shields. Bev Conklin and her band anchored last year’s showcase and it will be a treat to hear this year’s group that features the Mississippi born Lonnie Shields bringing his distinctive touch along with harmonica wizard Mikey Jr., and Slam Allen who was part of James Cotton’s Band for many years.

Barbara Carr at 2010 Pocono Blues Festival. Photo © Ron Weinstock
Saturday, July 26, the Festival will open with Tad Robinson performing on the Main Tent Stage while Rip Lee Pryor (son of the legendary Snooky Pryor who recently had his first recording issued on Electro-Fi) will open the Adventure Center for the first of two stages. Also appearing at the Adventure Center Stage will be Ursula Ricks for two sets. After Tad Robinson, there will be sets on the Main Tent Stage by Shawn Holt and the Teardrops (Shawn is son of Morris ‘Magic Slim’’ Holt); the great soul-blues vocalist Barbara Carr; the magical guitar of Ronnie Earl & The Broadcasters;  and the legendary James Cotton Blues Band will close that night. After the main performances there will be Saturday Night Jam in the Adventure Center featuring Dave Weld & The Imperial Flames.

Warner Williams of Little Bit of Blues.
Sunday, July 27 will open with VIP Sunday Brunch with The Murali Coryell Band with Special Guest - Dave Keyes. The Main Stage opens with the marvelous gospel harmonies of The Como Mamas; Following the Como Mamas will be The Jarekus Singleton Band featuring the young Mississippi bluesman who recently signed with Alligator and will soon have his debut album for the label. Little Bit of Blues, a Washington DC trio that features the amazing guitar and vocals of Warner Williams will be at the Adventure Center for the first of two sets and followed there by Super Chickan, also playing two sets there. Other main stage acts include the Chris Cain Band, featuring the wonderful, if highly underrated West Coast singer and guitarist; the Heritage Blues Quintet; with C.J. Chenier & the Red Hot Lousiana Band closing the main stage with some les bon temps roulet zydeco. The Jarekus Singleton Band will close out the Adventure Center stage.
CJ Chenier at 2010 Pocono Blues Festival
Once again Michael Cloeren has put together a line-up that captures a wide range of blues styles and includes some artists making rare East Coast appearances. Blue Mountain Ski Area is in Palmerton PA. For more information on the Festival, including information on tickets, and other matters visit

I have added links to reviews I have posted of a number of the performers. Just click on their names (which will be in blue) and it should take you to my review of that artist. This links will be updated as I add additional reviews.

Friday, March 21, 2014


Here is another of my reviews from the 1970s from the Buffalo Jazz Report.  The following review appeared in the December 1976 issue and I likely received a review copy from Delmark. It is currently available on CD. Above is the LP cover.

Jimmy Dawkins is one of the most original and important blues artists to emerge in the past few years. His first album Fast Fingers (Delmark DS-623) won the Grand Prix du Disque de Jazz awarded by the Hot Club of France, sort of like winning a Grammy, and his second album All For Business (DS-634) with Otis Rush, among the musicians, has to be one of the best blues albums of the 1970s. Jimmy's third Delmark alhum is good, of not up to the level of the first two, and a much better modem blues album than the Albert King album reviewed elsewhere. 

CD Cover For Blisterstring
This is Jimmy's first album with his working band and where he can control over production along with Delmari's Steve Thomashefsky. One main problem is that a few sides drag a little long, and Jimmy's playing, hard and driving as ever gets repetitious at points. I found it difficult sitting through this whole album, a problem I didn't have with the earlier two. Still there is some great music here, my favorite track being the closer Welfare Line with great lyrics and Jimmy making good use of both rhythmical and tonal effects in his playing. Also outstanding is a cooking version of Kenny Burrell's Chitlins Con Carne, and Blue Monday, an old New Orleans R'n'B tune associated with Fats Domino and Smiley Lewis which is partially a tribute to them. 

One other problem with the album is a somewhat distant quality to the recording. I don't like how the drummer was recorded. Still Jimmy Dawkins deserves your attention as a serious artist who the Downbeat Critics voted in 1974 Talent Deserving Wider Recognition.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Cleveland’s Tri-C Jazz Festival Celebrates 35th anniversary

Christian McBride Trio
Cleveland’s Tri-C Jazz Festival celebrates its 35th anniversary with a big move to June 2014. The 35th Edition of the Festival will present three jam-packed days of concerts in the theaters of Playhouse Square plus free music outside on Star Plaza. The Festival was founded in 1980 by Dr. Thom Horning and Reginald Buckner with a mission to: (1) Foster the history and nurture the future of Jazz; (2) Provide educational opportunities for students of all ages and in all walks of life; and (3) Bring world-class Jazz to Cleveland. To accomplish these purposes Tri-C JazzFest features jazz performances, clinics master classes, lectures, broadcasts, and a breadth of other concert and community outreach activities. Local and national artists teach, compose, arrange, and perform. 
Ernie Krivda
The line-up for this year’s festival includes the Sean Jones Quartet; Christian McBride; Gregory Porter; John Scofield Überjam; Trombone Shorty; Eddie Palmieri Salsa Orchestra; Jamey Haddad; Ernie Krivda; Eliane Elias; Terri Lyne Carrington; Raul Midón; Marcus Miller/Dave Koz; and Dave Holland Prism. As can be seen it is a pretty diverse group of artists. 

To highlight a few of the performers, Christian McBride will be performing with the Cleveland Jazz Orchestra and with his trio of pianist Christian Sands and drummer Ulysses Owens Jr.  McBride is one of the most in demand bassists on today’s scene and is comfortable playing straight-ahead hard bop, Weather Report inspired fusion and some James Brown inspired funk. Whether leading his Big Band, his group Inside Straight, playing with Sonny Rollins, or his new trio with the brilliant Sands on piano and Owens on drums, McBride displays a facility and expressiveness on the double bass that few of his contemporaries can approach. He is also a marvelous composer. 

Cleveland’s Ernie Krivda would be one of the best known saxophonists in the Jazz Scene if he hadn’t remained in Cleveland. His robust tenor saxophone swings hard and full of melodic invention. Krivda is scheduled to lead his Fat Tuesday Band on a program devoted to the music of Oliver Nelson and Jimmy Smith. 
Gregory Porter
Drummer Terri Lynn Carrington’s most recent recording Money Jungle: Provocative In Blue, was the winner of the 2014 Grammy Award for Best jazz instrumental album. It is simply another example of her talent and musical vision that is increasingly being recognized, whether for her own projects as well as her collaborations with others. 

Gregory Porter has become one of the most in-demand vocalists on the jazz scene. Bringing a warm vocal style that incorporates a variety of influences bridging soul and jazz troubadours including Donny Hathaway, the warmth and joy he brings to his originals along with his terrific band have delighted audiences throughout the world. And those familiar with his recordings should not be surprised when he reworks some these or such jazz standards as Work Song, that are part of his repertoire. 

More information on the Tri-C JazzFest including information on the schedule and tickets can be found at

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

A Time Machine Looking at Blues From September 1976

Back in the Time Machine to my blues column from the September 1976  Buffalo Jazz Report. I was at the B.B. King show I mention which was theater in the round so the stage rotated during the show. My comment on B.B.'s guitar playing may raise some eyebrows but I recall that there was a shift on the Live and Well album that was the first to mark his playing being a bit less fluid. Note the plug to Living Blues which since moved from Chicago to the University of Mississippi, so that subscription infomation is outdated The issue I referred to had the first of two very lengthy interviews with Charles Brown that appeared in Living Blues.

By the time you read this B.B. King will have been at Melody Fair, and James Cotton and Muddy Waters will have been at the Outside Inn in Angola so that August was a pretty good month for Buffalo as far as bringing in blues from out of town. Bobby Bland will be at Kleinhans September 13 and you should check him out even though I find his latest recording with B.B. King Together Again ... Live (ABC Impulse ASD-9317) somewhat of a disappointment. There are good moments, but the music lacks focus and sometimes drags, especially on Feel So Bad One other complaint is B.S.'s guitar work which I haven't really liked since the late 60s when his playing became choppy. These two are among the major blues art1sts of today but I would suggest you seek out there earlier recordings if you don't have them. It is nice, though, that this is a straight blues set, with no 'disco' touches. 

Mr. Blues is a new small label and its initial release by Good Rockin' Charles Edwards (MB 7601) is a fine one. Marred by somewhat sloppy backing, Charles is a fine relaxed singer and harp player who turns in a set of convincing performances. The songs include a couple of originals as well as songs from Little Walter, Jinmy Rogers and both Sonny Boy Williamsons. 

I will, from time to time, survey the releases of small labels that have been out for awhile, but may not be familiar to you. Trix is one of those labels and have issued a number of fine albums with a country blues orientation. Front and Center (3301) by Eddie Kirkland, one time sideman with John Lee Hooker (and Otis Redding) displays his country blues talents. Eddie's Boogie Chillen is a fine reworking of John Lee's classic and Jerdine features chilling bottleneck. Frank Edwards is an eccentric guitarist whose Done Some Travelin' (3303) includes a stunningly original, When the Saints Go Marching In, taken at a very slow tempo with bottleneck accompaniment
Robert Jr. Lockwood's Contrasts (3307) show him in a country blues setting as well as with his own jazz-oriented group with Maurice Reedus on tenor . The dominant influence on his country sides are his stepfather Robert Johnson. The band sides range from the mellow Forever on My Mind to the boppish instrumental Majors. Minors & Ninths.

Finally for those interested in reading about the blues I recommend Living Blues. It contains articles, news, interviews (the latest issue has a great one with Charles Brown) and an extensive review section . Subscriptions. which cost $4.00 for 6 issues, should be sent to Living Blues Publications, 2615 N. Wilton Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60614. Locally the Record Runner will be carrying current issues.

Monday, March 17, 2014

60 Years of Delmark Blues

Delmark 60 Years of Blues is one of two compilations in which Delmark Records celebrates its 60 years. Blues has been a strong part of Delmark’s catalog including recordings by Speckled Red and Big Joe Williams that were part of what the label originally called “Roots of Jazz.” In fact, when the historic Junior Wells Hoodoo Man Blues was issued it was part of this series (I still have my monaural vinyl LP of Hoodoo Man Blues). Such a compilation provides a glimpse of the label’s history as well as a sampler of some of its more current (and upcoming releases). Additionally, Delmark provides us with some unissued tracks from earlier albums and selections from forthcoming releases.

There are plenty of delights here ranging from Studebaker John’s opening lament When They Played the Real Blues, to Giles Corey psychedelic funk blues from a forthcoming new release. Recent releases by Linsey Alexander and Quintus McCormick are spotlighted along with selections from Eddie C. Campbell, Lurrie Bell (Channeling Otis Rush), Sharon Lewis and Tail Dragger. Among the delights is a previously unissued Rock Me Baby from Junior Wells from the sessions that produced Southside Blues Jam, an alternate take of the Little Walter Trio (with Muddy Waters and Baby Face Leroy Foster) doing I Just Keep Loving Her, Big Joe Williams on a 7-string guitar doing a strong 44 Blues, a previously unissued “Key to the Highway” by Detroit Jr., and Sleepy John Estes (with Hammie Nixon) performing Stop That Thing from the forthcoming Live in Japan CD. There is a fabulous track by Magic Sam from the recent Live at the Avant Garde album” and this compilation closes with Toronzo Cannon’s fervent Hendrix-inspired (but no Hendrix copy) John The Conquer Root. Over an hour of solid blues to be heard here.

I received from Delmark and last Monday I covered a similar compilation devoted to jazz. Here is Eddie C, Campbell performing.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Joe Turner In The Evening

Going back through the old issues of the Buffalo Jazz Report, I have discovered not only my old columns but also regular album reviews. The following was one of a number of Pablo Joe Turner recordings from the 1970s. I do not remember whether I purchased this CD or recived a review copy. The review appeared in December 1976 issue. There is a CD reissue of this that one should be able to obtain without that much difficulty.

The latest Joe Turner album presents the great shouter in another fine program of blues and standards. This session has the feel of a good West Coast blowing session with some nice T-Bone Walker styled guitar from Pee Wee Crayton and alto by Bob Smith. Joe is in good voice here and the band is relaxed and provides just the right support. Highlights include the title track and a very slow treatment of Chains of Love. Herman Bennett turns in a fine guitar solo on Pennies From Heaven - being more jazz flavored than Crayton, and elsewhere plays nice rhythm. A fine album however Benny Green's notes are getting hard to take.  

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Tom Holland & the Shuffle Kings - No Fluff, Just the Stuff

Guitarist Tom Holland will be best known for his lengthy tenure playing behind James Cotton, adding his fretwork behind Mr. Superharp’s harmonica explorations as well as supporting whatever vocalist is fronting the group. Back in Chicago, he can be heard backing Harmonica Hinds and other real deal Chicago blues acts as well as his own group, The Shuffle Kings. The Shuffle Kings are Holland on guitar and vocals, Big D on harmonica, Mike Scharf on bass and Tino Cortes on drums.

Holland recently issued a new CD, No Fluff, Just the Stuff (E Natchel Records) that was crowd-funded on Kickstarter (and I was one of his many Kickstarter supporters). As given his band’s name, and the album title, this is a release of straight blues with no hard rock fluff or filler. On No Fluff, Just the Stuff, Holland & the Shuffle Kings are joined on a few tracks by the great John Primer on guitar and pianist Marty Sammons.

Tom Halland at 2008 New Olreans Jazz & Heritage Festival. Photo © Ron Weinstock
No filler aptly describes this release with a share of wonderfully played shuffles and slow blues. Holland is an able singer and a fine guitarist, whether playing straight single note runs or employing a slide. He contributed all the songs here often employing a clever use of words as on Waiting For the Other Shoe to Drop, and More Things Change.

Outstanding tracks include the Muddy Waters styled Hurry Up & Wait, with fine slide guitar; the peppy Shuffle King Boogie, with Primer and him each taking taut solos (and nice interplay between the two); and a nice long slow blues, Hardest Part of Loving You, with Sammons terrific here supporting Holland. The title track is a crisply played instrumental that ends this entertaining recording on an upbeat note.

As mentioned, I was kickstarter supporter of this recording. Tom Holland’s website is and it is available from cdbaby,

Here is a video of Tom Holland & the Shuffle Kings in performance.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Frank Lacy & The Smalls Legacy Band

Trombonist Frank Lacy has a weekly gig at Smalls, the Greenwich Village jazz club with his Legacy Band. Spike Wilmer got Frank Lacy & The Smalls Legacy Band a weekend to record them for the club’s SmallsLive label resulting in a new Live at Smalls recording. Joining Lacy that weekend is trumpeter Josh Evans, tenor saxophonist Stacy Dillard, pianist Theo Hill, bassist Rashaan Carter and drummer Kush Abadey.
Live at 2014 Mid-Atlantic Jazz Festival

This is one superb band on a recording the evokes Blakey’s great bands with Wayne Shorter, Curtis Fuller and either Lee Morgan or Freddie Hubbard; Charles Tolliver’s ensembles; the great Woody Shaw groups (with Louis Hayes and after). The mood is set with Lacy’s  Stranded, and concludes with Freddie Hubbard’s The Intrepid Fox. The whole band is outstanding with trumpeter Evans playing with the fire and imagination that Hubbard and Shaw brought thirty-five years ago. Drummer Abadey stands out playiung with the explosiveness and nuance of Elvin Jones and Tony Williams.

Lacy is an unsung trombonist who can get gut-bucket with some tailgating on the trombone as well as navigate the more intricate changes in the compositions (including George Cables’ wonderful Think of Me that was on Woody Shaw's Blackstone Legacy LP). Lacy even sings on Carolyn’s Dance in a fashion not that far removed from Archie Shepp’s vocals on Shepp's recent Attica Blues Orchestra recording. His vocal may jar some, but is only a small part of one selection here.

This writer recently saw Lacy as part of a trombone summit with Delfaeyo Marsalis and Steve Turre. He impressed in that company and plays with so much of the personality he displays on this live recording. I would love to see him playing with this outstanding group.

I purchased this CD. Here is a small clip of him performing at Smalls.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

The title of guitarist Dave Stryker’s new recording, Eight Track (Strikezone Records) refers to the music of the 70s when 8 track tape players were in vogue. In his notes, Stryker observed that this was “a time when there was a lot of great pop music going on as well as jazz.” In addressing this material, his trio of organist Jared Gold and drummer McClenty Hunter is augmented by vibraphonist Stefon Harris.

Songs with great melodies and that evoke a great time is what Stryker sought and among the songs interpreted here are The Spinner’s I’ll Be Around; Curtis Mayfield’s Pusherman/Superfly; Glen Campbell’s Wichita Linesman; The Fifth Dimension’s Aquarius; The Association’s Never My Love; and Pink Floyd’s Bread Money. Stryker and Harris are the dominant solo voices on the delightful, straightforward performances o with Gold and Harris helping swing these performances. The interplay between Stryker and Harris is marvelous and they both make these instruments sing with their lyricism and deft, imaginative soloing.

The augmentation of an organ trio with a vibraphonist may not be frequent occurrence, but Stefan Harris’ contributions to Dave Stryker’s trio help make Eight Track such a entertaining listening experience.

I received my review copy from a publicist. Here is a little video on the making of Eight Track.


Tuesday, March 11, 2014

A Blues Time Machine From August 1976

The Jazz & Blues Report is celebrating its 40th Anniversary with the March-April 2014 issue. I started writing for it in 1976 and here is my first column Blues that I wrote for it. before I started writing reviews. I wish I was still so pithy instead of long-winded. :) It was originally the Buffalo Jazz Report and the first 58 issues have been digitized and can be downloaded from the University of Buffalo Library system. The website for these archived issues is: I believe the only recordings mentioned in the column that are still available is Otis Rush's Cold Day in Hell and Hound Dog Taylor's Beware of the Dog

This is the first of a series of columns which will include both live blues in the area, and recent recordings. WBFO-FM provides the Buffalo area with the only regular blues pro- gramming. Shades of Blue with Babe Barlow is heard Saturdays from 10 PM to Midnight. I do both Bon Ton Roulet as part of This is Radio on Wednesdays (3 PM) and Ramblin' with the Blues on Thursday evenings from 10 to 11. Other folk pro- grams on WBFO do have feature blues (though not exclusively). Listed in this column will be any regular blues programs in any city the BJR services.

The Belle Starr is the only place in the Buffalo area that isbringing in blues bands from out of town. The Buddy Guy-Junior Wells band appeared in May, and Muddy Waters was there in early July. Both groups played well and were well received. Hopefully some Buffalo bars may follow the Belle Starr and bring in some Chicago bands. Locally Shakin' Smith continues at the Buena Vista Wednesday and Saturday evenings. 

1976 has seen the release of a number of very fine albums. Robert Jr. Lockwood and the Aces, Blues Live in Japan (Advent 2807) is the finest of the three albums that Lockwood headIines. Formerly a guitarist with Sonny Boy Williamson and Little Walter, as well as being Robert Johnson's stepson, Lockwood is a brilliant blues guitarist, playing in a jazz-flavored style, and sings in a straight forward fashion that brings new life to such standards as 'Stormy Monday' and 'Worried Life Blues'. An added treat is Louis Myers vocals, slide guitar on Anna Lee and his harp playing on Little and Low behind Lockwood's vocal.

Mr. Johnson's Blues (Mamlish S-3807) is the only American release of Lonnie Johnson's recordings from the 20s and 30s. A well-programmed album, it provides variety in material and setting. Lonnie Johnson is featured both as a singer and accompanist and plays not only guitar,but piano and violin. Also heard are Eddie Lang, Texas Alexander, Clara Smith and Victoria Spivey. An extremely important release which should make many familiar with one of the pioneers in jazz and blues. 

Among other albums, Otis Rush's 1st album in 8 years Cold Day in Hell (Delmark DS-638) is one of the finest blues albums in recent years. Rush sings and plays with incredible intensity. Highly recommended to fans of B.B. King-styled blues. Hound Dog Taylor's posthumously released live album Beware of the Dog (Alligator 4707) captures the infectious quality of his rocking blues and boogie. He will be missed. The James Cotton Band's Live and on the Move(Buddah BDS 5661-2) also is an album of boogie which also should have wide appeal. I find the album a Iittle too frantic and the music too hurried though many of you will probably find it to your liking.

Monday, March 10, 2014

60 Years of Delmark Jazz Celebrated.

Since Bob Koester founded Delmar Records in St. Louis in 1953, Delmark Records has issued many important jazz recordings and over the years has built a catalog ranging from traditional New Orleans and Chicago style jazz to the first albums by members of the Art Ensemble of Chicago. It continues to produce new recordings that cover the entire range of jazz styles. Celebrating its 60 years, Delmark has issued a new compilation Delmark 60 Years Of Jazz that provides a small sampling of the jazz that is available on the label.

The twelve selections cannot convey the full range of jazz that Delmark has issued, but includes selections that range from the modernism of Josh Berman & His Gang reinventing the Austin Hill Gang twenties classic Sugar, as if it was an out-take from Eric Dolphy’s Out To Lunch, to The Fat Babies’ traditionalist revival of Fletcher Henderson’s The Stampede, from this ensemble’s most recent Delmark effort.

The earliest selection here is a 1952 rendition of the trad jazz warhorse, That’s a Plenty by St. Louis trumpeter Dewey Jackson and followed by a bouncy original by the marvelous flautist Nicole Mitchell. An early Lockjaw Davis rendition of Lover from a forthcoming “Honkers and Shouters - Volume 4” is followed by Ernest Dawkins’ straight ahead take on Coltrane’s tribute to Paul Chambers Mr. P.C., and Ira Sullivan backed by the Jim Holman Trio on Benny Golson's Along Came Betty.

Free bop can be heard on Rob Mazurek’s Spiral Mercury, Kahil El Zabar’s Ritual Trio on Crumb-Puck-U-Lent, with saxophonist Ari Brown and the late violinist Billy Bang, and Jason Adasiewicz’s vibes led trio on Bees. Other tracks include a strong Red Holloway track with organist Chris Foreman and the great Sonny Stitt tearing into Miles Davis’ Four with Don Patterson on organ and Billy Pierce on drums.

There is a nice balance of recent and older recordings and the more contemporary styled selections strike me as not being too far out and should be accessible to most listeners. For those familiar with Delmark’s blues recordings, this and other samplers may be a way to get introduced to the diverse offerings available.

I received a review copy from Delmark who have a companion sampler relating to Blues that I will post about in a few days. Here is
Kahil El Zabar’s Ritual Trio featuring Billing Bang

Sunday, March 09, 2014

Joe Louis Rocks Out On Hornet's Nest

Somewhere I read that Joe Louis Walker’s new CD, Hornet’s Nest (Alligator), is his 25th. Whether that is the actual case, it gives a sense of the substantial body of work he has recorded since his first Hightone album some quarter-century ago. Walker, recently inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame has produced some of the finest blues recordings of this time span displaying both passion and substance as a songwriter and performer.

The CD was produced by Tom Hambridge who has produced Buddy Guy’’s recent recordings and Hambridge also is on drums and contributes backing vocals. The other member of the studio band that will be familiar is Reese Wynans on keyboards. The Muscle Shoals Horn Section is present on one of the 11 selections. Hambridge contributed to 8 of the 11 selections on this (4 of which Walker contributed to).

Hambridge’s production brings a rock-tinged edge to the music here, some of which is pretty much ‘in your face.’ And this CD is not strictly blues as there is a fair amount of hard blues-rock present along with some blues. Folks with a preference for a more traditional blues sound might want to pass on this while folks that like their blues mixed with hard rock will be quite happy with it.

The title track is a but of blues-tinged rock with Hambridge pushing the groove with the subtlety of a sledgehammer operator while Walker lays down a fiery blues-rock solo against the dense backing providing. All I Want To Do has more of a laid back feel as the Muscle Shoals Horns add punch as Walker singing soulfully (although his voice sounds a bit strained here). A shuffle, Stick a Fork in Me, has a clever lyric along with a lively performance and followed by an imaginative rendition of the old Roy Hamilton hit, Don’t Let Go.

Walker plays slide on the terrific, I’m Gonna Walk Outside. Walker channels Muddy Waters as he sings “A married woman, a back door man, a loaded pistol in you husband’s hand.” Ramblin’ Soul is more heavy blues-rock as he bellows about hellhounds can’t find him as he lays lays down slide as the backing pounds things along. It is followed by a Jagger & Richards cover, Ride On, Baby, that sounds to these ears like a Bruce Springsteen cover.

Soul City is a rocker lyrically akin to James Brown’s recording of Night Train, and musically evoked the classic Stax instrumental “Soulfinger,” with screaming guitar. I would love to hear someone interpret this as a horn based funk number. “Not in Kansas Anymore,” with an opening that evokes The Who’s We Won’t Get Fooled Again, and a lyric about Dorothy, Toto, wicked witches and the Wizard of Oz, is straight hard rock.

Joe Louis Walker establishes on Hornet’s Nest that he can rock as hard a anyone out there and more than capable of playing something other than blues. Hopefully it is a recording that will enable him to enlarge his audience and  enable him to play not simply to blues audiences and venues but to  venues and events that rarely feature blues performers. Hornet’s Nest shows he continues to invest his performances with considerable power and passion although it will not be an album this listener will be listening to regularly, but that is a matter of musical taste.

I received this from Alligator. Here is the title track.

Saturday, March 08, 2014

Lowell Fulson Live in 1983

We have Billy Vera to thank for the release of Lowell Fulson Live 1983 At My Place (Rock Beat). Fulson is caught in performance backed by Billy Vera and the Beaters at the Santa Monica club, At My Place and its a marvelous near hour of music as Fulson revisits a number of classic she had recorded such as (Honey Hush) You Talk Too Much; Blue Shadows: Reconsider Baby; Black Nights; (Blues Pain) Do The Things You Do; Every Day I Have the Blues; Sinner’s Prayer and Tramp; along with interpretations of blues standards Going To Chicago; Stoop Down Baby; Too Many Drivers at the Wheel; and Love Her With a Feeling. I added parenthesis to a couple song titles to indicate what the song is also known as.

Fulson is in solid form here. His parched, graining Oklahoma panhandle blues voice carried the same soulfulness here as on his numerous recordings. And The Beaters provide strong backing. Saxophonists Jerry Peterson and Lon Price adding their own solos to Fulson’s own prickly T-Bone Walker-style. There was an excellent Fulson live recording from a Japanese tour with a band that included Lee Allen that has never been issued in the US. The performances on Live 1983 At My Place stand up nicely to that earlier one and this should be of interest to anyone interested in one of the giants of the last sixty-five years of blues.

I purchased this and you might try for copies. Here is Lowell Fulson with Lloyd Glenn doing Reconsider Baby from 1984.