Saturday, December 19, 2015

Chris James and Patrick Rynn Find That Trouble Don't Last

As Bill Dahl observes in the liner booklet to "Trouble Don't Last," the new Vizztone Records release by Chris James and Patrick Rynn, "the blues tradition has always been central to" their approach to music. Vocalist/guitarist James and bassist Rynn joined forces in Chicago two decades ago and played behind a number of legends as well as established themselves on their own with several choice albums. On "Trouble Don't Last" they are backed by drummer June Core (Robert Lockwood, Jr, Charlie Musselwhite and others) and harmonica players Aki Kumar and Rob Stone who even are both heard on two of the twelve selections.

Starting with the opening "Shameless," the duo give as good a lesson on how to play traditional Chicago Style blues with Core laying down a crisp shuffle groove followed by a strong interpretation of Calvin Frazier's "Lilly Mae" with Kumar's harp wailing behind James' warning to her if he finds her misbehaving on Hastings Street. James is a terrific 'old-school' guitarist and Rynn and Core lay down a solid backing. There is some nice unison guitar-harp playing here on a selection that evokes the early 50s recordings from Joe Van Battle's Hastings Street shop. There's a lively reworking of Freddie King's "Lonesome Whistle Blues," with a dual harp horn section followed by a terrific Muddy Waters' styled "Going Down to the Ocean" which was inspired by the days Rynn played with the Griswold Brothers in Toledo, and with some deep blues guitar from James. The title track is built around some nimble finger picking fretwork with a simple rhythm and Kumar's supporting harp and followed by a strong down-home flavored treatment of R.C. Smith's "Down Drive Me Away." "Good Idea At The Time" is a brooding blues (in a John Lee Hooker vein) with James singing about sitting in jail and no one to blame but himself so he has to do his time.

Sunnyland Slim's reworking of the "Rollin' & Tumblin'" theme, "Roll, Tumble and Slip" receives a lively reworking (with harp solos from both Stone and Kumar) that exhibits not only the excellent musicianship, but strong ensemble playing that is characteristic of this entire recording. James is a straight-forward singer who does a solid job delivering his originals and with Rynn and the rest of the band has provided another blues gem.

I received my review copy from VizzTone. This review appeared in the November-December 2015 Jazz & Blues Report (Issue 363). Here is a video of the two in performance.

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