The Soul Connection
Chico Blues Records
I became aware of the Austrian organist Raphael Wressnig from a social media posting of a selection by him and this led me to purchase as a download an album of his with guitarist Alex Schultz, "Soul." A few weeks later I was pleasantly surprised to receive in the mail a new recording by Wressnig with the wonderful Brazilian guitarist, Igor Prado, "The Soul Connection," that was recorded in San Paolo. Joining the two are Yuri Prado on drums, Rodrigo Mantovani on bass, horns led by Sax Gordon Beadle on several tracks and vocalists Wee Willie Walker, David Hudson, and Leon Beal. Mixed between soulful vocal tracks and tight combo instrumentals, "The Soul Connection" is terrific.
Willie Walker was brought along for the project. Based in Memphis in the 1970s, Walker was originally supposed to record "Trying To Live My Life Without You," but it was done first by the great Otis Clay who was interested in doing it again, but Clay passed away before they could recofrd it with him. Walker opens this CD with a fabulous vocal on this that conjures up Clay's original. There are tough horns riffing on this while Wressnig greases the backing. Walker is also present for four terrific renditions of songs associated with Little Willie John starting with a terrific "Suffering With the Blues," backed by just the organ combo. There is a terrific organ solo on this while Prado plays in a Billy Butler-Sonny Forriest groove. "Home at Last" brings back horns on a number some Junior Wells fans may recognize as "Country Girl," with Prado channeling T-Bone Walker. "My Love Is" has finger snapping and a very low-key backing with acoustic bass along with organ, while the shuffle "Heartbreak," has Sax Gordon riffing like the sax on the original while Wressnig provides a greasy foundation with more jazzy playing from Prado.
David Hudson sings solidly on his cover of Tyrone Davis' classic "Turning Point," while Leon Beal does a fervent rendition of the Bobby Bland hit "Don't Cry No More," with Prado coming across as B.B. King meets Clarence Holliman in his solo. The instrumentals include a organ combo rendition of Little Willie John's recording "Young Girl," with some stinging guitar from Prado after the organ lead. "No-La-Fun-Ky," from Prado and Mantovani evokes the classic Meters sound, while the Wressnig-penned "Turnip Greens," conjures up Booker T and MGs. "The Face Slap Thing No. 05" is taken at warp speed and features some blistering playing from Wressnig and Prado and followed by a nice relaxed rendition of "Grazing In The Grass," with the leader making use of the full range of sound textures from his organ. It is terrific, but that is true of all the performances here.
This superb recording is available as a CD, download and vinyl. There is also a deluxe recording which is a 2-CD Digipack that also includes "Captured Live," a nine-song CD by the Soul Gift Band with a guest appearance by Deitra Farr. I have not heard that, but based on what I have heard by Wressnig, I suspect it is a gas.
I received from the artist. Here are Raphael Wressnig & Igor Prado performing "Young Girl" live.