Tuesday, December 05, 2017

Jimmy Carpenter Walk Away

Jimmy Carpenter
Walk Away
Threadhead Cultural Foundation/ VizzTone

Saxophonist Jimmy Carpenter is perhaps best known as a member of Walter ‘Wolfman’ Washington’s Roadmasters as well as playing with blues-rocker Mike Zito. He has recently issued a CD “Walk Away,” co-produced with Chris Finney with a core band of guitarist John Fohl: keyboards from John Gros; bass from Casandra Falconer and drums by Wayne Maureau. Carpenter handles vocals, saxophones and rhythm guitar with a variety guest appearances including vocalist Reba Russell, guitarists Anson Funderburgh and Mike Zito and trumpeter Anthony Gambrell (Carpenter’s band-mate in the Roadmasters).

Carpenter, known for his robust saxophone, shows himself to be quite an affable singer on the 13 originals here starting with the easy rocking “Can’t Let Go” that features some fiery Funderburgh guitar along with some grease on the Hammond B-3 from Gros. The crisp ensemble playing and the brassy horn arrangements are typical of the production throughout with plenty of punch. The title track has a southern swamp-rock feel with a strong R&B accent with Fohl’s guitar accenting the vocal before Carpenter takes one of several full-toned solos on his recording. “When You’re Ready” is a driving rocker with nice interplay between guitarists Fohl and Zito, along with Zito’s scorching guitar solo.

She’s Not You” opens with some commanding saxophone before a soulfully sung lament about this woman telling him he seems distant while he still can’t get over his ex on a number that is evocative of Bruce Springsteen. Another song suggesting Springsteen is the jaunty “Crazy ‘Bout You.” “Seventh Street Shuffle” is a greasy instrumental taken at a walking tempo while “C King Blues” is a feature for his sax with a loping tempo. The subject of “More Than Meets The Eye” causes heads to turn although her looks hide what is inside her. This has a Memphis funk backing with a similar feel to the blues-soul of “Hard To Be Cool.”

After the garage-rock flavored “On the Outside,” (where Carpenter is looking in), “Walk Away” closes with “Fellow Traveller” a duet with Reba Russell. Fohl’s judicious use of tremolo and Maureau’s stick work contribute to the wistful atmosphere here along with a nice sax solo. There is plenty of music to enjoy here as Carpenter shows in this recording that integrates his blues, country, soul, and pop influences, he is far more than a road house saxophonist.

I received my review copy from VizzTone. This review originally appeared in the January-February 2015 Jazz & Blues Report (Issue 358). Somehow I forgot to post it before, so I am belatedly posting in now. Tomorrow I will be posting my review of Jimmy's most recent recording, "Plays The Blues." Here Jimmy Carpenter doing an in-store performance in New Orleans at the Louisiana Music Factory with a band including John Fohl and John Gros.

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