Since sax player Jesse Scinto assembled the Dignitaries in the summer of '97, they have been steadily building a reputation in the windy city. The band's debut album, appropriately entitled "Rock and Roll Dream," is a pretty fair reflection of Scinto's passions and inspirations. The end result is a style that comprises a mixture of R&B and rock'n'roll largely centered around some powerful honking sax.
The title track opens the album, and is the first of five tracks that include Rockin' Johnny Burgin on guitar. It is followed by the first of two Leiber & Stoller tunes ("The Chicken and The Hawk"), which is a not too distant musical relative of "Shake Rattle & Roll." The band then really let their collective hair down on "Ranchero," the second of three
originals. It is a real party instrumental, complete with handclaps. The latter are deployed to good effect on "Lover Please."
You then get a chance for a quick breather with a relatively quiet interlude. Big Jay McNeely's "Minnie" is closely followed by the last of the originals ("This Way"). On this pair of tracks Scinto sounds most like a crooning Elvis Presley, whom Scinto openly acknowledges as a vocal influence.
The temperature is turned back up for "Breathless," a song most closely associated with Jerry Lee Lewis. Then it is back to the songbooks of first Jay McNeely, for the instrumental "Hoppin' with Hunter," and then Leiber and Stoller for a romp through "Destination Love." Eventually, after another relaxing interlude (Dave Bartholomew's "One Night") the band close out by tearing their way through the jazz number "Flying Home."
"Rock and Roll Dream" is a brave attempt to straddle the border between R&B and rock'n'roll, which works pretty well. There is enough here to entertain fans of both genres, and the album suggests that a live show should be real hoot. If "Rock and Roll Dream" is not in the shops, you should be able to get it through Jesse's web site (www.jessescinto.com).
This review is copyright © 2001 by Gordon Baxter, 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.
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