Monday, October 19, 2015

Generation Blues Experience Looks For a Private Angel

Generation Blues Experience arose in 2012, when twelve year old Ray Goren visited Bell's, a South Central Los Angeles juke joint and met 78 year old Jamie Powell and 68 year old Sammy Lee with whom they established bonds that transcended the differences in age and lifestyle. Having shared stages with BB. King and others, and having recorded two albums, R. Music, Inc. has just issued "Private Angel," a recording of seven originals and one cover.

Generation Blues Experience is comprised of Ray Goren (guitar and vocals); Jamie Powell (guitar and vocals); Sammy Lee (harmonica and vocals); Lester Lands (bass, rhythm guitar and vocals);  (keyboards); and Albert Trepagnier, Jr. (drums). Bobby 'Hurricane' Spencer is musical director, plays tenor saxophone and did the album's horn arrangements. Others on the recording are Dan Weinstein (cornet and trumpet); Terry DeRouen , (formerly with Lowell Fulson and Guitar Shorty - rhythm guitar); Andrew Bush (keyboards); and Retha Petruzates, Lands and Spencer (backing vocals).

Sammy Lee takes the vocal on the opening “Little Mama,” with a latin groove and punchy horns as he sings about a lady in her skinny jeans and working it on out before Goren takes a very impressive couple of choruses that displays a clean and crisp attack before Lee closes the vocal out over Goren’s guitar. The title track is a slow minor blues that displays Goren maturity as a singer vocal set against a backing that suggests B.B. King’s recording of “The Thrill Is Gone.” Goren wrote the country blues “Crazy” for Powell whose strong singing is complemented by Lee’s down home harp as well as a showcase for Goren’s guitar pyrotechnics.

Goren displays a different side from his hard rocking guitar style on a lovely ballad, “Rainin’” with his plea as to why did you leave baby, “cause its sunny outside baby but raining in my room.” Besides his vocal, the jazzy solo displays a different side to Goren’s playing. It is followed by a shuffle “Katrina,” on which Lee sings about the Hurricane that treated New Orleans so mean with fine guitar and a bit of down home harp. “Sugar Momma” is a a lazy blues spotlighting Lee’s down home harp and vocals which reworks the classic Sonny Boy Williamson I and Howlin’ Wolf blues with solos by Goren and Lee.

Bassist Lands sings soulfully on “Put Love On Your Guest List,” (and take hate off your mind) with a short crisp Goren guitar break followed by a concert recording of Bill Wither’s “Ain’t No Sunshine” to close out this album. Goren’s capable vocal showcases a lengthy solo on which he builds from some jazzy filigrees to some serious guitar fireworks. Its a solo that certainly illustrates why he is someone who likely will become prominent among contemporary audiences especially. The solo perhaps goes on a bit long, but there is no denying his capabilities as a guitarist or a singer. And while he shares the spotlight with the rest of Generation Blues Experience, “Private Angel” is as much a coming out showcase for a precocious and very talented Ray Goren.

I received my review copy from a publicist.My review originally appeared in the November-December 2014 Jazz & Blues Report (Issue 357). Here is Generation Blues Experience in performance.

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