Anthony Paule's name may not be a household word, but he's sure been around. A fixture in Johnny Nocturne's band for a number of years, he's also appeared on outings by Mark Hummel and Maria Muldaur. Usually content to provide subtle, tasteful accompaniment, this is Anthony's second venture into the spotlight as leader. I haven't had the pleasure of hearing his first, but I'm sure glad I got my hands on this puppy!
Anthony's core band is an international affair. Having met B3 master Alberto Marsico while on tour in Italy, he later hooked up with drummer extraordinaire Gio Rossi. Persuaded to bring them over for these sessions, he added SoCal saxman Rob Sudduth to round out the mix. (The intent was to have the Hammond take the bass parts, an increasingly popular approach that here works remarkably well). Guests include producer Jim Pugh, who contributes piano to a couple of cuts, and a certain Ms. Dee, whose vocal on the title track is a highlight.
As befits someone with his background, Anthony's style owes as much to jazz as it does to blues, readily apparent right from the start as it's drums and organ that kick off "Goin' Home," a cool shuffle. As if to lay any doubts to rest, next comes an instrumental cover of "Town Without Pity." The Gene Pitney classic started life as a movie theme; here it's so evocative it's like listening to a film noir masterpiece, a bit like Brian Setzer's more dramatic turns but sans the over-the-top histrionics. "Can't Get The Time Of Day" is a loping, sax-driven bounce, while "Sy Spy" returns to film territory; Anthony describes it as the theme of an imaginary surf/spy movie. One listen'll tell you exactly what he had in mind. "Hiding In Plain Sight" is six-and-a-half minutes of pure slow blues ecstacy, the aformentioned Ms. Dee nothing short of magnificent. "I'm Not Crazy Yet" marks the return of Anthony on vocals. Following the dusky depths of Ms. Dee's lone vocal turn, it provides an unfortunate contrast; one suspects Anthony turned to singing out of necessity, and while perfectly adequate on his own terms, he simply can't stand up to the comparison. The funky "You Sure Drive A Hard Bargain" and a rhumba-styled "Cutest Kitten," both cool jazz-inflected tunes, merely reinforce the thin quality of his voice. Perhaps he realizes it himself; the last two tracks are both instrumentals, allowing Anthony to employ the voice he uses best, his guitar. The cleverly-named "Denise And The Nephew" is a moody slice of late-night, organ-driven jazz a la Ronnie Earl, while "Twistin' With A. P." follows a similar formula, albeit heating it up a notch.
Sound throughout is good, with a nice balance that puts Anthony's guitar front and centre where it belongs. The organ-as-bass is ideally suited to the material at hand, Mr. Sudduth's sax work is stellar as usual, and the whole is informed by both tasteful restraint and subtle virtuosity.
This one's a keeper!
Blue Dot Records
P.O. Box 320386, San Francisco, CA 94132 0386 U.S.A.
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