Friday, January 08, 2016
Otis Spann Sweet Giant of the Blues
With this backing group, Thiele took Spann outside the straight Chicago blues setting of his previous recordings and tried to mix in some Latin and funk grooves of the time in an attempt perhaps to reach different audiences. Spann is in fine form, both on piano and singing. Bennett and Humphrey are solid backing him. Scott plays well, although at times his playing comes across as busy. Shelton is a good guitarist and his crisp playing on "Sellin' My Thing," a song in the hokum tradition, stands out but at other places his use of fuzz-tone, (perhaps a production decision ) is misplaced and is a distraction on otherwise fine performances like "Moon Blues." This latter title refers to the moon landing but Spann sings about having all that bread to send folks into space, but the cupboard is bare for us and baby we ain't going anyplace. Scott has a terrific flute solo on this with Spann adding splendid accompaniment under it.
"I Wonder Why" and the instrumental "Bird In a Cage" are other songs on which one wishes Shelton had put the fuzzbox away. Spann is terrific, and if not totally enamored with Scott's sax on the former number, I wish Shelton was absent on both. Thankfully he plays without effects on the slow blues "Hey Baby," and on Spann's gospel number "Make a Way," that closes this album. It is unfortunate that these flaws detract from an otherwise fine recording. Spann would have one other recording on BluesTime, the super-session, "Super Black Blues" with T-Bone Walker, Big Joe Turner and a terrific band that included George 'Harmonica Smith that Ace has also reissued and which I unequivocally recommend.
I purchased this.