Sax players collectively get little attention outside their sideman roles until they make solo moves like Don Wise. Don may be better known as 'the saxman' behind much of Delbert McClinton's work. He makes a reciprocal guest appearance here as well. But this biscuit is Don Wise's music. The platter is treated and arranged, as he says looking for "good musical content". This is just that ... filled with tasty tunes and not overly burdened by overbearing horn arrangements. Wise's sax work throughout is flawlessly real though, in the face of regional music flavors from Texas, N'Orleans, and the Carolinas.
Surrounding himself with superb professionals and guests, Don Wise (who also produces the effort) is helped by guitarist Todd Sharp, keyboardist Kevin McKendree, drummer Steve Meador, and bassist George Hawkins Jr.. Guest musicians are guitarists Chris Holzhaus and Wally Moyers, pianist Steve Bassett, bassist Steve Mackey, drummer Lynn Williams, keyboardist Jay Lemon, and hornmen Terry Townson and Jimmy Bowland. Vocalists include Wise, Hawkins, Holzhaus, Bassett, Delbert McClinton, Marcia Ball, Lesley Sawyer, Gary Bunton, and Terry McBride.
Shufflin' from the start with "That Same Mistake", Wise sports grandiose horn lines, McKendree throws in a little organ regality, and Holzhaus, knocks down the vocals. The professional integrity is evident throughout as the second Wise tune "Hard To Please Woman" comes across the speakers with its funky beat and sweet percussive flavoring. When you get into the third tune "Deep In The Heart Of Texas" you got McClinton and Ball sharing verses and chorus. At this point you are tasting your Gulf Coast stylistic tour. With "Sanc-T-Flied (one of two instrumentals on the disc), you get the real taste of Wise horn and the basic band sans Meador drumming. If it's time to bet, then I'll also raise on the rest of this disc's material; a strong hand across the spectrum!
A qualitative collection of tunes for Wise on this sophomore outing. Premium music, well-balanced instrumentation, and great production, mixing, and mastering. Wise is on the right track blazing new material and arrangements with a great ear for that "good musical content". Don't look at this expecting a horn expose ... Wise is already proven ... now it's just time for good music, and that's just what's on this plate!
WAMCO Productions; P.O. Box 2772; Knoxville, TN 37901-2772: or, www.donwise.com
This review is copyright © 2001 by Mark A. Cole, and Blues On Stage, all rights reserved. Copy, duplication or download prohibited without written permission. For permission to use this review please send an E-mail to Ray Stiles.