"Keeping the Blues Alive Award" Achievement for Blues on the Internet Presented by The Blues Foundation
When Junior Watson states his desire to "play like a train runnin' off the tracks," it's a safe bet that there'll be some interesting stop-off points on his new CD. Possessed of an encyclopedic knowledge of guitar and a list of credits that rolls on like a locomotive, If I Had A Genie is only his second true solo release, and there have been far too many years between this and the last one. Watson's certainly been active in the meantime; with an endless schedule that finds him criss-crossing the globe like the jet stream; he seems to go without stopping, except for an occasional quick nap here and there. Talk influences with a number of young guitar-slingers playing blues today, and the Watson name will enter the conversation more than periodically. He's that recognized. He's that important. He's that good. His discography dates back to the mid-1970's and since then he's appeared on a dizzying array of sessions with Rod Piazza, Canned Heat, William Clarke, Snooky Pryor, James Harman, George "Harmonica" Smith, Johnny Dyer, Kim Wilson, and many more.
With If I Had A Genie, he's joined by Barron Shul on tenor and baritone sax, Kedar Roy's upright bass, and Jimmy Mulliniux providing a wide variation of beats, along with Gene Taylor's rippling piano and Nick Curran's beefy guitar spicing a few tracks. Regardless of whether the band works through a Latin groove in the title track, a gritty shuffle for Bumble Bee Slim's Lonesome Old Feeling,, or a creeping, slow grind on Blues After Hours, Watson's guitar doesn't over-ride the process as much as it pins it all together. Granted, his tone and touch are masterful, and as capable as he is at jaw-dropping leads, his preference has always been to make his guitar fit instead of showing off his skills. Instead of flash, he uses restraint to flesh out Flappin' and in turn, it becomes much more memorable than just another instrumental, and vocally, he's consistent and engaging with a slightly garbled way of phrasing that melds perfectly with his guitar. While there's a decidedly low-key feel to this session, there's an insistent swing that's impossible to ignore in Spring Roll, which could easily be mistaken for a 1939 Charlie Christian outtake, if not for better sonics, and for Amos Milburn's House Party, quoting from Pop Goes The Weasel before digging in for quick and crushing solo marks a creativity which is absent in many less mature players.
Junior Watson is as much an oddity of nature as he is a highly influential guitarist and it's no mystery as to why; boundaries don't hedge him as much as they excite him, and he constantly stretches to see how far outside the lines he can drive while maintaining an undeniable blues feel. His playing graces an ever-growing list of work with esteemed colleagues, and with If I Had A Genie, he steps back into the spotlight delivering a guitar clinic that includes prerequisite classes in taste and tone, as well as offering lessons in quirky comebacks and quotations. Check out: www.juniorwatson.com for more information.
14 tracks, 55 minutes.
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