by: Hobart Taylor
Mr. Isaac Allen - Don't Smoke – (Horizon Records)
OK he has a deep baritone, jazzy arrangements and Zen sensibilities and polaroids of night shadows clutched in his talons so someone is going to say Leonard Cohen/Lou Reed clone. Mr. Isaac Allen followed his own path, went to his own jails, did his own suffering and out of 7 billion people at least two will arrive at the same place no matter from whence they started. I won't go into the back story here, google him if you like and read the details (fact or fiction they make a good story). The music is good... not groundbreaking or surprising, but supportive of the poetry.
Maceo Parker-Soul Classics - (Razor and Tie)
Well tasty licks drip like drool all over this sloppy re-creation of the golden era. With a German big band playing with Swiss watch perfection and a cool rhythm section (Christian McBride and Cora Coleman-Dunham) we've heard it all before. The weakest link? Parker. He's sleepwalking vocals are pale renditions of the originals. While his playing is blazing, it is boring too, like a golden spoon with northing interesting in the design. Two cuts rise above the monotony however and make this CD worth adding: "Do your Thing" and especially a brilliant rendition of "Soul Power".
Antsy McClain-HeroesLast Forever- (Unhitched)
Poor man's John Prine...10 per-cent of the with and even less of the wisdom, workmanlike musicianship and too cute for school but cuts 6-10, especially 7 "In a Perfect World"and 8 " "Leftover Birds" rise above the muck... enough so I've added it to "Folk".
B.B. Cunningham-Hangin' In- (Supreme Records)
Cleaning out the closets? This one came to me even though it's a 2002 release... however music should be timeless and constantly re-discovered. This weird Memphis rocker is eccentric country rock, swamp rock and blues based satire. James Burton lays down some fine licks. Cunningham writes well, the arrangements are tasty..."Swamp River Lady", "What You Got", "Midnight Angels", "Memphis in the Rain". This record is all over the place, probably recorded catch as catch can with different levels of recording quality etc. still it's very real. B.B. is bassist for Jerry Lee Lewis whenever "Killer" gets out of the house.
Tip of the Top -From Memphis to Greaseland- (Delta King Records)
This Bay Area combo re-creates the sound of the greatest session musicians from Memphis circa 1955-1975. When I first listened I thought it was some Beale street bootleg. The playing on the whole is very good with a couple of cuts really standing out, # 9 "Sliding Home", an instrumental and # 2 "One Way Out" which actually sounds like San Francisco psychedelic blues (Big Brother). Most songs are originals with a couple of Sunny Boy Williamson covers and a Brownie McGhee.
Stanton Moore Trio-Emphasis on Parenthesis- (Telarc)
A founder of the New Orleans genius Jazz/Funk/post modern Fusion GALATIC this drummer who has been a missionary for the second line and all other beats NOLA has been putting out trio CDs with Will Bernard Guitar and Robert Walter on organ,piano and occasionally clarinet. This latest grooves along with a precision NO MACHINE CAN IMITATE! You can hear the intelligence of this music multiply exponentially as the players are so in sync and mind melded that it's like taking a shot of Jack and blood. Instrumentals.
Gary Brown-Comin' Home- (Gabbro Records)
New Orleans tenor man Gary Brown made this post Katrina CD in 2006. It was in amongst the current adds and deserves attention. A collaboration (the arrangements are from Sam Brown, (hammond B-3)), this record was recorded in Austin with cameo's from Asleep at the Wheel's Ray Benson.
The vocals are soulful and spot on... and his tenor is sweet and on the money...old songs you've heard too many times done right proliferate