Saturday, October 10, 2015

Sugaray Rayford Goes Southside

The Texas born, California-based Sugaray Rayford impressed many with his excellent blues debut “Blind Alley” a few years back. Then he had a terrific followup on Delta Groove, “Dangerous” as well as fronted the Delta Groove blues revue in a band, The Mannish Boys.“ With gospel roots, he brings a soulful approach to a range of material to his latest recording, ”Southside’ (NimoySue Records). Produced by Rayford, the nine songs here are all Rayford originals (Eight in collaboration with bassist and co-producer Ralph Carter). Besides Carter, the backing band includes guitarist Gino Matteo; drummer Lavell Jones; tenor saxophonist Allan Walker; trumpeter Gary Bivona; and keyboardist Leo Dombecki. Guest artists include Bob Corritore who contributes harmonica to one selection.

Rayford continues to display a rare command in today's blues world as a vocalist, with one suggesting an apt comparison might be the late Little Milton and/or Artie ‘Blues Boy’ White who is able to take us to the “Southside of Town” where we can get down; celebrate his heritage as “Texas Bluesman” while acknowledging some of his fellow Texas blues legends; or spin a tale about watching “Miss Thang” as she walks down the street looking like a fishing boat in a very, very rough sea.“ He can make a transition from the hard driving, horn driven band blues to the acoustic song, where he sings his love is guaranteed and she can ”Take It To The Bank,“ with nice slide guitar and harmonica. ”Take Away These Blues" is marvelous moody performance with some of Matteo’s most nuanced playing with the horns adding their accents here.

A soul-blues, “Slow Motion” has a terrific vocal displaying Rayford’s nuanced singing that is superbly backed. It is a terrific closing track to another auspicious release by Sugaray Rayford. He continues to provide us with strong and varied material and has emerged as one of today’s leading blues and traditional soul singers. Highly recommended.

I received my review copy from a publicist. This review appeared in the September-October 2015 Jazz & Blues Report (Issue 362). Here is a video of the Sugaray Rayford Band.

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