The Real Thing
The Shaboo Inn was a fabled Connecticut club of the 70s and D.A. Foster was among those running it. He also has been singing music even prior to the Shaboo Inn and in recent years has been leading the Shaboo All Stars. Foster has a new CD out on Vizztone, “The Real Thing” that was produced by drummer Tony Braunagel and keyboardist Mike Finnigan of the Phamton Blues Band and has Foster backed The Phantom Blues Band (Larry Fulcher on bass; Johnny Lee Schell on guitar; Lenny Castro on percussion; Darrell Leonard on trumpet and Joe Sublett on saxophone) with backing vocalists.
Foster’s deep-throated vocals covers a fairly diverse group of jump blues and urban blues starting with a strong soulful take Dave Steen’s “Good Man Bad Thing.” The Phantom Blues Band’s backing provides a very different tenor to Foster’s rendition from the more guitar centered version by the late Michael Burks. It also quickly displays Foster’s virtues as a singer with his phrasing and dynamics. The title track is a roadhouse blues rocker that suggest the bluesier side of Delbert McLinton with rollicking piano and an energetic guitar solo.
Foster does justice with his renditions of a couple of songs associated with the late Bobby Bland, “Ain’t Doing Too Bad,” and “This Time I'm Gone For Good.” The former number sports a nice funky groove with Foster’s raspy vocal very appealing. On the latter number, Schell employs a jazzier tone that along with the backing lends a 3:00AM in the morning feel behind Foster’s marvelous singing. Foster updates Eddie Hinton’s “Super Lover” as a funky dance number, while doing justice to a rocking and swinging treatment of the classic penned by Jesse Stone (as Charles Calhoun) “Smack Dab in the Middle” with a booting tenor sax solo,” along with a nice version the classic Andy Razaf-Don Redman ballad, “Gee Baby Ain’t I Good To You.”
There is a wistful rendition of Bill Withers’ “You Just Can’t Smile It Away.” The album closes with “Down Home Blues,” that is solidly performed but not very distinctive. But even an ordinary closing performance does not lessen the fact that “The Real Thing” is full of choice musical performances. Wonderfully backed by The Phantom Blues band, D.A. Foster brings a fresh approach to some well known material and sings with a soulful authority that the years of performing bring.
I received my review copy from VizzTone. This review appeared in the March-April 2015 Jazz & Blues Report (Issue 359). Foster has a new album out that I have not heard. Here is a clip of D.A. Foster in performance.