Blesok no. 53, March-April, 2007
Koko Taylor – Old School
Alligator Records ALCD 4915
The great news is that the undisputed queen of blues is back! After several years of silence, personal and serious health problems, blues fans throughout the world greeted her comeback which coincided with the release of her new album of great songs which should get nominations in a lot of categories after this year is over! After relatively weak “Royal Blue” album, this is the real deal, pure Koko with fabulous collection of some great blues material which is simply essential for every serious collection. Her own material is strong enough to be mixed with some explosive covers (Willie Dixon, Magic Sam, Lefty Dizz, E.G. Kight and Memphis Minnie) that were special to her with overall performance to match. Koko never sounded better in a long time, even she was much younger, it’s as if she decided to show rather weary contemporary blues scene and few generations of artists how it should sound. Backed by two great bands which include blues stalwarts such as Bob Margolin, Billy Branch, Chris Johnson, Kaz Kazanoff and others, Koko does justice to twelve songs she recorded in Chicago proving once more why the Windy City is still one of the leading blues cities in the world. Above everything, the magic of this record isn’t the musicians or the songs. It’s the way that Koko, at the age of 78, totally committed herself into these performances presenting every blues fan with a gift of treasured music that will last. Standout tracks include: Bad Avenue, All Your Love, Hard Pill to Swallow, Piece of Man and Black Rat.
Les Marvellous Pig Noise – Droles De Mammiferes
Dixiefrog Records DFGCD 8618
“Les Marvellous Pig Noise” was formed in 1996 in the French legion of Loire, a loose bunch of street musicians decided to take their music seriously which led to professional electrified quintet that continues to respect the rules of it’s original charter: perfect vocal harmonies, strong musicianship and impeccable grooves. Their music is simple and complex at the same time with strong original material by their leader Pierre Citerne, vocalist, harmonica player and guitarist and sung mostly in French is what separates the band from the local competition, and in recent times that include some strong European opponents too. “Droles De Mammiferes” is fifth album by the band in ten years of existence, probably their best effort so far, with strong buzz in the media and record buying public. Their latest project should open some new doors for the members of this unusual outfit, whose music consist, to paraphrase their promo material, of different ingredients such as 30% French broth, 25% nectar of gospel, 25% blues juice, 20% groove concentrate, all rich in vitamins and no preservatives or artificial coloring! On a few spins, this CD sounds both rough and smooth at right places, the French lyrics nicely comply over fine gospel harmonies with strong blues grooves. This stuff never fails to bring a smile on one’s face, it’s destined to bring some enlightenment to our everyday’s lives, it's healing music that works from the very first note off the album. Standout tracks include: Quand Le Soleil Descend, Ma Muse Est Le Blues, Droles De Mammiferes and Au Milieu De Silence.
Pine Leaf Boys – Blues De Musicien
Arhoolie Records ARH CD 533
“Blues De Musicien” is the latest effort by a young band of musicians who are dedicated in preservation of their ancestors’ musical roots, rich traditions of Cajun and Creole musical heritage which will not only find favor within fans of the genre but everybody that enjoy good time music. Wilson Savoy, Cedric Watson, Drew Simon, Jon Bertrand and Blake Miller are a bunch of talented people who do justice to their own material and carefully chosen covers by well know exponents of the idiom, showing that this band is not only band whose music is steeped in tradition, but also willing to carry it’s torch into the future with their original approach and youthful exuberance, producing one of this year’s best releases so far. I’d like to check this band live as I’m sure these guys are cooking on stage whether they play slow waltzes of quick two-steps, their music sizzle with quality singing and playing with enough emotion to make everybody happy or feeling blue, you just cannot but believe what these guys are doing. Fine stuff indeed that deserve as much exposure as possible! Standout tracks: Blues De Musicien, Mon Coeur Fait Mal, Pine Leaf Boogie, Creole Mardi Gras and J’ai Perdu Ma Chance.
Rick Lazaroff – Groovistico Ballistico
“Groovistico Ballistico”, latest CD by Rick Lazaroff is in principle one-man affair: he performs all duties, writing, arranging, programming, playing with small but important assistance of a few friends, excellent guitarist Pete Swan (5 tracks) and keyboardist Joe Lagan (1 track). Jazz rock idiom is what we have here, or fusion as some like to call it. In any case, this is an interesting project that deserves attention from all fans of the genre and more. What separates this package from other similar projects is inclusion of some delicate traditional folk motifs of rich Macedonian musical heritage, where Rick’s ancestors are rooted from. It adds some unusual flavor to the proceedings and sounds very good with original twist. Rick started his career as an orthodox rocker but has changed his music path as he progressed and wandered into pastures of new and found himself in jazz surrounding which gave him a chance to advance into better expression of his creativity in music. “Groovistico Ballistico” is certainly fine proof of his endeavors. This is not an everyday jazz-rock fare; at first, this may be simple sounding stripped down material, but at the same time it’s complex one, bursting with ideas that need to be explored by discerning music fan which can only result in rewarding listening. Rick Lazaroff is a master of his art and we can only imagine him in live setting for a new experience in music idiom he explores so well. I recommend this CD to all fans with adventurous mind; its quality will definitely inspire and upgrade their musical perspectives. My standout tracks include: Ross’s Basement, Killbear Park, Longomontanus My Foot and Emerson Lake.
Sonny Moorman – Live At The Cincy Blues Fest!
Atlas Records ATL0008
Sonny Moorman Band has been one of the leading exponents of Ohio blues scene in recent years and it’s easy to see why if you happen to attend one of their 300 gigs per year throughout clubs, regional or national festivals. When occasions allow, Sonny Moorman take the stage as a solo artist, presenting his rich musical persona in an intimate setting which is the case with this release taped at the well known Cincinnati Blues festival last summer. He’s a world class performer with fine vocals and guitar technique to match and performance that can rarely be touched by artists who perform solo. Carefully chosen covers that evoke blues tradition at its best with great own material to present an artist of highest caliber whose music and performance can move any blues fan into an array of emotions. After all, blues is an epitome of just voice and lone instrument, enough that can create beautiful music to enjoy and Sonny Moorman successfully does that, remaining true to his musical wisdom. Four Robert Johnson covers show his favorite bluesman of the past which also include Blind Willie McTell, Mississippi Fred McDowell and Muddy Waters among others. Give this CD a listen, you will thank me later! Although every track deserves a mention, for standout tracks I’d go for: Bad Woman Blues, As The Crow Flies, Rollin’ & Tumblin’ and Crossroads Blues.