As much as I try to maintain an open mind towards those who are trying to stretch the boundaries of the blues, to keep it moving forward and evolving to reflect the times, I admit my own tastes lean to the lo-fi, delightfully dirty sound of the fifties. It's not a nostalgia thing; there's simply still much to be mined in that classic vein. Kid Ramos said it best; "It's not retro, it's unfinished business." Ironic, then, that with isolated exceptions (Kid being among the greatest of the torchbearers), one's obliged to look to Europe for what's a quintessentially American art form.
Enter Jumpin' Jerry & The Blue Healers, who are from either Denmark or Sweden, I think; try as I might I can't determine which. The disc doesn't say, and the website's not in English.
The band's a young one, but apart from the joyous enthusiasm apparent in every note, one might never know it as the playing reflects a mature restraint; they know it's the groove that matters, and absolutely nail everything with abandon and aplomb. It's palpably obvious they truly love this music, and abundantly clear that it comes from both heart and soul, going way beyond mere imitation or affectation. Leader/guitarist/vocalist Hans 'Jumpin' Jerry' Bollandsas has written nine of the disc's twelve tracks, every one a classic-in-waiting, cruising that territory where raucous blue grooves threaten to break out into flat-out rock 'n' roll, yet always remaining on the blue side of the fence. There's lots of west-coast swing in the mix as well, with that irresistible bounce in the beat that could get the dead to dance. Covers include a doo-wop inflected "Every Night," "T-Bone Boogie" (curiously, one of the disc's weaker moments - and it says a lot about the strength of Jerry's compositions that they top anything from Mr. Walker), and Jimmy McCracklin's "Gonna Tell Your Mama."
If I were to hazard a guess I'd say Jerry's listened a lot to Ronnie Earl's older outings on Black Top, both for repertoire and in his guitar work. Like Mr. Earl, he can switch from lean and clean to thick and greasy in an instant, and he swings like mad even on the slower stuff. But the energy level, again, is higher, the sound a lot raunchier.
The foursome (Jerry, with bass, drums, and sax) is augmented with some of the dirtiest harp I've heard in a long while on one track; if I have one complaint, it's that they didn't see fit to employ guest Geir Bertheussen more throughout. Vocals, both Jerry's and the background choruses from everyone else, are exemplary, for the most part untouched (for those concerned) by any hint of an accent.
An absolutely stellar outing; it may take some effort, but well worth tracking down. My very highest recommendation!
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