Mary Dukes hails from Carson, California: She came to play with guitarist and songwriter Jerry Rosen quite by accident but it now seems fateful with the release of this plate. The music business is not new to Ms. Dukes, having sung background for luminaries like Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Natalie Cole, M.C. Hammer, Earth Wind and Fire, Peggy Adams, and Archie Bell & The Drells. A consumed gospel singer, Ms. Mary continues in her church choir and has worked in the theater, besides raising her family.
Ms. Mary provides all vocals on the disc and she is backed by guitarist/producer Jerry Rosen on lead and rhythm guitar. Guest guitarist and label mate South Side Slim lends his lead guitar to four tracks also. Giving up the room-filling Hammond organ is Deacon Jones, and the rhythm section is Oklahoma Ollie on the bass and Johnnie Tucker swinging the drumsticks. It is Josh Trossman who wails on the harp on four cuts too!
Wading into material written and arranged by Rosen, the band throws down tight executions, sharp deliveries, and fluent passages and solos throughout. Jones' powerful organ keeps the mixes emotive, the rhythm section hits hard, and Rosen and Slim provide tremendous string action. Ms. Dukes enthralls with sensuousness, jazzy inflections, and quality-laden vocal work. Her range is never challenged and she knows how to entice with volume and timbre. When looking to discover new blues talent, finding Ms. Mary is like striking gold; immediately and continually rewarding.
South Side Records; P.O. Box 641668; Los Angeles, CA 90064: or, www.southsiderecords.com
This review is copyright © 2001 by Mark A. Cole, and Blues On Stage at: www.mnblues.com, 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.