“50 Shades of Blues” is a new Delta Groove recording by keyboard wizard Anthony Geraci and The Boston Blues All Stars. Geraci is best known in anchoring the keyboards for Sugar Ray and the Bluetones, and he is joined by his band-mates: Sugar Ray Norcia, guiatrist Monster Mike Welch, bassist Michael ‘Mudcat’ Ward and drummer Neil Gouvin (although Marty Richards handles the drum chair for most of this). Guests include Darrell Nulisch, Michelle ‘Evil Gal’ Wilson, and Toni Lynn Washington, who along with Norcia, handle the vocals. Geraci produced this, in addition to playing piano and organ, and writing all 13 songs.
He gives some really wonderful new blues heard in terrific performances by all involved. Darrell Nulisch sings the opening “Everything I Do Is Wrong,” that sounds a song Otis Rush should have recorded for Duke. It features a tough Welch solo while Geraci pounds the ivories. The title song follows, a jump blues duet shared by Norcia and Wilson, with rollicking piano. Welch plays in a T-Bone meets B.B. vein on this. The next two selections are classic Chicago styled blues. “Sad But True,” is a Tampa Red styled blues with Welch on slide and Norcia on harmonica. It is followed by the stunning Muddy Waters influenced “Heard Thet Tutweiler Whistle Blow,” with Norcia singing about going to Detroit to build a car for Mr. Ford. Geraci channels Little Johnny Jones and Otis Spann on these two songs.
More Otis Spann influence is present on the closing “Blues For David Maxwell,” a superb instrumental tribute to the late pianist with Geraci's at perhaps his finest (and he is exceptional thoughout). This performance builds in intensity as Welch adding fiery guitar before Ward’s bass leads the band into a surprising concluding portion where they evoke Pharoah Sanders “The Creator Has a Master Plan,” with Norcia playing wood flute here. It is a marvelous finale to a stellar recording. Anthony Geraci is a first-rate blues songwriter and a terrific keyboard player. With these superb musicians supporting him, there should be no surprise about the consistently marvelous music on “50 Shades of Blue.”
I received my copy from Delta Groove. Here is a performance from the CD release party.