Blesok no. 52, January-February, 2007
Sound Reviews

Crosscut Records News

Vasja Ivanovski

The latest “Crosscut” production include two live CDs by Memo Gonzalez & The Bluescasters and B.B. & The Blues Shacks. Both releases deserve mention and airplay. Memo Gonzalez and his Bluescasters are an excellent unit of blues musicians who know how to do it properly. This international band (Memo is American, bassist Erkan Ezdemir is of Turkish origin, while guitarist Kai Strauss and drummer Klaus Schnirring are Germans) is based in Germany, the best possible location for numerous touring schedules. Their blues is a varied combination of blues, swing and rock ‘n’ roll presented in their rip-roaring unique way. Memo is fine harmonica player firmly backed by excellent Kai Strauss and with cooking rhythm section of Erkan and Klaus, they cannot go wrong. This live recording was made in various locations during their UK tour and audiences’ response is great all the way thanks for superb band’s performance! All songs on this CD were road tested and are favorites wherever they are performed; it’s usually their own material with a few great covers (Elvis Presley, Magic Sam, Junior Parker, Jay Miller…). Recording is great, it has complete atmosphere, just close your eyes and you are there! This CD should make the band proud and the label lucky to have them.

B.B. & The Blues Shacks is undoubtedly one of the best blues bands in Germany and this CD is just another certified proof to that. Recorded in their hometown of Hildersheim, at Vier Linden venue, this CD will please many blues lovers throughout the world and in my opinion it’s must have! Their own original sound is based on forties and fifties electric blues and R&B, vintage and contemporary at the same time!

Arlt brothers Andreas and Michael on guitar and harmonica/vocals respectively, are in charge of this excellent band whose performing range varies from Moscow to Chicago with all stops in between, they get invited back wherever they play. The band plays as a tight unit and this CD just confirms everything that has been said or written about them. All 11 tracks are simply great and deserve as much exposure as they can get. These guys really cook and in case they play in your area, be sure to be there!

A number of new releases from this excellent German independent company will undoubtedly delight many blues lovers around the world. Here’s a glimpse at the goodies from “Crosscut Records”.

Colin Linden’s new release “Easin’ Back to Tennessee” is excellent for starters. He is a multitalented singer, songwriter, guitar player and producer from Canada. As in-demand session player he has contributed to more than 150 albums. Colin has produced more than 30 albums including The Band, Colin James, Leon Redbone, Bruce Cockburn and other top names in the business. At the age of 11 he met Howlin’ Wolf, legendary bluesman from Chicago. They became close friends and their friendship lasted until Wolf’s death in 1976. To this day Colin names Howlin’ Wolf as his most important influence.
His latest, self-produced album “Easin’ Back to Tennessee” contains some of his best songs so far, but also a nice collection of covers written by some of the greatest in acoustic blues. Colin’s new versions are simply inspiring. Some tracks were recorded solo, others have him backed by an exquisite rhythm section of Larry Taylor on bass and Stephen Hodges on drums, these guys are top guns having worked with the people like Tom Waits, John Hammond Jr, Al Green, Canned Heat and many more.
“Easin’ Back to Tennessee” is presenting acoustic blues at its best, performed by multi-awarded producer and songwriter. It’s his ninth album release, a little masterpiece, a special recommendation for all lovers of great acoustic music. The album is easily accessible and proof for Linden’s state-of-the-art guitar playing.

Kissing in 29 Days” is fourth album for “Crosscut” by JW-Jones Blues Band. It sounds like a journey to the heydays of Kansas City swing, and Central Avenue blues and R&B of Los Angeles. JW will take you back to those days where blues shouters were fronting mighty bands and where borders between jazz and blues were blurred. He absorbed the music of the era to revitalize rhythm and blues. That is the sound you can expect listening to “Kissing in 29 Days”. JW-Jones is an excellent guitar player and accomplished vocalist capable of big things. Interestingly enough he started as a drummer but changed his mind when he saw B.B.King in concert in his home town. He soon mastered styles of three Kings (B.B., Albert and Freddie) and was ready to go. His new album is a mixture of tradition and modern spirits, JW-Jones has found his own personal voice and expression in contemporary blues. The amalgamation of R&B and blues of the early days with today’s sounds, the inclusion of 60’s style rock structures and the attitude to life of his generation makes him one of the few outstanding blues musicians of his age group (he’s 25 years old) in Canada. His music sounds original unlike some of his contemporaries who are pale imitators of the past. Special guest on his new album is legendary tenor sax player David “Fathead” Newman who added his personal stamp on the music and spiced up the proceedings. Give this album a listen,
you‘ll be glad you did!

Sherman Robertson’s new album is called “Guitar Man Live” will please his fans and blues lovers in general. Performing a high-explosive brew of his Texas-style, guitar-driven blues with a shot of zydeco, soul-blues and a bit of funk, Sherman Robertson is the legitimate successor of the late great Albert Collins. His live set is made of all needed ingredients for a good night out and crowd loves every bit! Album was recorded at Kwadendamme Blues Festival in Holland last year and here Sherman is backed by his regular European band BluesMove from England. They do a great job and it’s obviously that this band is one of the best in their homeland. This album collects eight songs from the gig, featuring two original Sherman’s songs while the rest being road tested crowd pleasers like Robert Johnson’sDust My Broom”, Ray Sharpe’s “Linda Lou” and Curtis Jones’ classic “Tin Pan Alley”. Tracks are long and give plenty of space for musicians to stretch and show their expertise in blues. Sherman Robertson has an individual style of playing, though incorporating influences from his biggest influences. Not since the 80’s and the terrific comeback of Albert Collins and Robert Cray’s comet-like rise to stardom, the blues world has experienced anything comparable to Sherman Robertson. He plays the blues with passion and conviction. “Guitar Man Live” is in effect the continuation of an exciting recording career that matured under the watchful eye of Clifton Chenier and hit pay dirt with the million selling Paul Simon’s album “Graceland”.

He Came to Play” is the latest album by one of the best harmonicats on the scene, R.J.Mischo. This is top class harmonica album with great songs and superb musicianship and is destined for repeat playing! Fourteen tracks represent R.J.Mischo in excellent form. Most of the tracks are his originals with a few blues standars thrown in for a good measure most effective being “Bluebird Blues” by the legendary Sonny Boy Williamson No.1. “He Came to Play” is classic West Coast Blues party that wont let go from the first notes you hear. Superb backing band is cooking all the way and R.J. has a plenty room for his incredible harmonica playing, though band members also get a chance to shine individually, but as a unit they are magnificent! Two guitarists, Frank Goldwasser and a newcomer Chris “The Kid” Andersen are doing great job recreating the classic sounds of the fifties while strongly footed in this Millennium. This is beautiful collection of blues played with feeling and passion of dedicated bluesmen. With its primitive electric blues, humor and passion R.J.Mischo delivers an album that ranks among the best that were recorded in the last few years. He has definitely secured his position as one of the best and most innovative harmonica players of today. Go get it!

created by