These days there's nothing that moves me as much as swing. Regardless of genre or idiom, it's gotta have that irresistible bounce to its beat; things just seem so leaden without it.
Two of the swinginest cats I know are Dave Glover, a.k.a. Big Daddy G, and his musical partner (one might even go so far as soulmate), Tortoise Blue. Dave grew up on jazz - cats like Nat King Cole and Louis Prima - and has been slinging guitar since his teens, for many years tearin' it up on the club circuit with his sibling in the Glover Brothers Blues Band. Tortoise, hailing from Ottawa, picked up the harmonica in high school, later taught himself to play the organ, and has of late matured into a confident and expressive vocalist.
Their influences and experiences, in short, are utterly impeccable; to round out the recipe Dave and Tortoise bring their own "sensibility of swing" to the music, amply evident on their third outing, "Blue Sound - Live At The Harvest"
Recorded in a tent in downtown Fredericton just days after . . . well, that day in September . . . the band simply tears it up on a collection of lesser-known classics with a few originals tossed in. Backed by a telepathically-tight rhythm section (Wayne Deadder on bass, Ted Peacock on drums, aided and abetted by guest John Lee on piano) Dave's leads are piercing, stinging, wildly inventive; Tortoise is a wildman on both B3 and harmonica; he won the 'Maple,' Canada's most prestigious blues award, for the latter this year. He's got tone like a freight train and simply never seems to run out of spontaneous musical ideas. Joining Tortoise on the last three tracks is Ottawa's "Southside" Steve Marriner, a strong contender for the same award at the tender age of seventeen.
The guys jump right in with a killer "Stringbeans And Tater." Named for Dave's daughters (those are his affectionate nicknames), it's like the great instrumental Freddie King never wrote, all ferocious guitar, pounding drums and wheezing organ. Lowell Fulson's "Tramp" is next, the band proving they're anyone's equal at slippery funk. "Tigerman" nails the relaxed Texas swing thing perfectly, then bassist Wayne's reverse-shuffle "New Man Blues," leads to a surprise, the 60's chestnut "Mohair Sam," driven by Tortoise's thick harmonica. He switches to acoustic harp for a take on Sonny Boy with "Help Me," then turns it over to the truly amazing Southside Steve for some fine chromatic on Piazza's jumpin' "Honey Bee Buzz." Steve sticks around for "You're Cute," he and Tortoise complementing each other beautifully before the two duel it out on a rousing "Rocket 88, bringing the set to a roaring climax.
Dave's on fire, playing with aggressive ferocity throughout (as though his very life depends on it, actually). Tortoise, a master showman, does everything with cool cat efficiency and exuberant spirit; guests Mr. Lee and Mr. Marriner, veteran and phenomenon respectively, are both top-notch players; and the band swings mightily. Hell, say righteously. Gloriously!
Given the timing of the recording, it would be easy to say the performance recorded here stands as a defiant proclamation of the power of music and in the face of unimaginable horror; that, though, may not be fair. Rather, let's just say it's a testament, timing aside, to the good that music can do. And proof that good guys do indeed win some!
Big Daddy G
C/o Reggie's Records
701 Rossland Rd. East, Suite 402, Whitby, Ontario, Canada L1N 9K3
Web : www.bigdaddyg.com
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