Singer, songwriter, guitarist Joanna Connor's MC Records debut is a genre blending tour de force. Connor earned her Blues pedigree in mid 1980's Chicago, sitting in with the likes of James Cotton, Jr. Wells, Buddy Guy and A.C. Reed. For the past 15 years she's been treating her blues roots with generous amounts of Funk, Soul and scorching guitar. On "The Joanna Connor Band," she and her longtime confederates forge a distinctive sound that's been
honed over countless road dates.
The 14 deep-grooved tracks include ten originals and four well-chosen covers. "Fine & Sublime," gets things started with Ted Reynolds' thick, driving harp alongside percolating Hammond B-3 work by Roosevelt Purifoy. Connor's vivid lyrics and cascading vocals
flow effortlessly into one of her trademark excursions on slide guitar that take windy city lessons learned long ago and send them off to another realm.
Overall, Connor's lyrics here could be her strongest, while the song structures are among the most intricate and satisfying that she's recorded thus far. Whether it is the logical candor of "No Black or White," the jubilant exhalation of "Six Child" or the poetic/mystical journey of "Afrissippi," Connor conveys the essence of mature realization. There's the hard won knowledge of life on the road, leading a band and raising her children that informs Connor's work here.
With strong original material that places lyrics and structure ahead of extended soloing, it's not surprising that the most adventurous moments of musical dexterity and interplay occur on the covers. War's "Slipping into Darkness" is a perfect choice since both bands aspire to stretch the limits of musical definition. Reynolds' lilting harp and Connor's sultry vocals get things rolling into the instrumental break. While Purifoy gets the B3 kicked into high gear, guitarist Anthony Palmer trades off on some funky rhythm riffs with Connor before delivering some tasty, Jazz influenced leads. Throughout, the elastic rhythm section of bassist Stan Mixon and drummer Bryant T. unerringly select the right groove with the highlight being the Chicago style version of
Sam Cooke's "Somebody Have Mercy."
Executive Producers Mark and Catherine Carpintieri at MC Records have afforded Joanna Connor the opportunity to make music on her own terms. She, in turn, has responded with a collection of 21st Century Blues filled with pure passion and a singular vision. "The
Joanna Connor Band" takes a bold step forward with a reliance on the old standbys: songwriting, ensemble playing heartfelt love for the music.
PO Box 1788
Huntington Station, NY 11746
Web site: www.mc-records.com
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