Calvin "True Blue" Owens chose to move into the 21st Century of music by releasing a compilation of what he personally considers to be the best work of Calvin Owens and The Calvin Owens Blues Orchestra. The Best of Calvin Owens & The Calvin Owens Blues Orchestra is a 13 song ride through the variety that Calvin Owens Sawdust recordings provide listeners. The trumpet-playing Owens has been involved as a music professional since 1948, serving as band leader for B.B. King twice during his remarkable career. In recent times, Owens has kept his orchestra on the cutting edge, mixing his big band blues with jazz, soul and Latin soul, stretching into the sounds of rap and zydeco.
Along with the big band, The Best of Calvin Owens incorporates a great variety of special guests including B. B. King, Johnny Clyde Copeland, Chubby Carrier, Trudy Lynn, Archie Bell, Otis Clay, David "Fathead" Newman and Norma Zenteno. These able-bodied "assistants" provide music that will appeal to just about anyone's musical preferences.
It's hard to pick out favorites on The Best of Calvin Owens simply because everything is so different. Lovers of the classic big band blues sound will love the opener, "Texas Stomp," with an organ solo by Peter Van Bogart, followed by a harder edged Texas blues with vocals by the late Texas bluesman, Johnny Clyde Copeland and a sax solo by David "Fathead" Newman. One of the more unique songs on the CD is "Todo Me Culpa with its smooth Latin sounds blusey Spanish vocals by Norma Zenteno. In yet another style change, Chubby Carrier brings his distinctive accordion and vocals into a powerful blues treatment of the classic "Take Me To The Zydeco."
Evidence of Owens' attempt to continue his dance on the cutting edge of musical style fusion can be heard on "Everybody Lives The Blues," featuring rapper Big Snap on vocals. The combination of big band blues and street wise rap is very well done and quite listenable despite the fact that I am not a big rap music fan.
The final two songs on The Best of Calvin Owens feature the "King of the Blues," B.B. King on guitar and Calvin Owens only vocal performance on "Don't You Want A Man Like Me?" The finale, "True Blue," offers a great combination of the powerful solo trumpet of Calvin Owens backed by King's signature guitar sound, culminating in a great guitar solo to finish the song and the CD.
Calvin Owens provides a unique and varied perspective on the blues with The Best of Calvin Owens & The Calvin Owens Blues Orchestra. The CD is a must for fans of Texas horn based blues and the full big band sound. For more information on this talented bluesman, and to hear samples or to purchase any of his recordings, visit Calvin's website at www.calvinowens.com.
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