A new album from Sonny Black is invariably a treat. His latest effort,
"Blues Of A Kind," released on his own label, merely serves to enhance his
reputation as one of the best guitarists around. The only real surprise is
that it has taken until now for Black to be voted best guitarist in the
British Blues Connection awards, despite long being mentioned in the same
breath as Peter Green and Eric Clapton by people in the know.
From the moment the album opens with the twangy guitar of "Night Drive"
you know that you are in for a treat. The combination of blues and jazz is
what hallmarks much of Black's work. When you blend his classy guitar with
the expertise of keyboard player Bob Haddrell and a rhythm section that is
always on the money--George Pearson (bass) and Damon Sawyer (drums)--you
get one of the finest bands around.
All of the tunes bar one are originals, and all are instrumentals. There is
enough variety in style and tempo, however, to ensure that everyone remains
interested. When you can make the guitar sing like Sonny Black, you do not
always need a vocalist anyway. He has that great knack of knowing when not
to play which is just as important as knowing when to play.
For the most part, Black sticks to electric guitar, but he digs out his
steel guitar for three tracks. The first, "Delta Swing," demonstrates that
you can lead a band using acoustic guitar and still make things swing. The
rendition of Charlie Patton's "Some of These Days," has poignancy, rather
than the brooding intensity of the original, whilst "Strollin' Home" has a
great pre-war blues feel to it even though it is a Black original.
The other tracks are all infused with varying amounts of jazz. "Cafe Cuba,"
for example, has a Latin tinge, whilst the title track is exactly as it
suggests: "Blues Of A Kind," albeit a slightly jazzy kind. All of the
tracks are good, and it is very difficult to single out the best one. "Just
Enough" sneaks the vote, mainly for the particularly fine guitar work, and
Lee Badau's excellent honking sax which adds yet another dimension to the
band's sound. After that the album rounds off with the nicely contrasting
laid back feel of "Jacqueline," which simply leaves you wanting more.
"Blues Of A Kind" is a classic album, delivered by a class act. People with
an interest in music that comfortably straddles the blues/jazz boundary
(think Kenny Burrell, Grant Green, Dave Spector and so on) will lap up
"Blues Of A Kind." More widely, anyone with an interest in top quality
guitar playing will find plenty to admire here. "Blues Of A Kind" is one of
the best albums of the year, without any shadow of a doubt.
Visit www.redlick.com to pick up a copy.
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