The Millionaires are a swinging jump band out of Detroit able to cause a foot to tap at a hundred paces. Given that their histories have put them on stages with Johnny Adams, Muddy Waters, Jerry Lee Lewis, Alberta Adams, the Four Tops, Lazy Lester, the Temptations and a slew of others, it's no surprise they've got chops to spare. From the opening instrumental take on Andy Gibson's classic "The Hucklebuck" to the closing strains of "T-Bone Boogie," this band is all about high energy horn-driven dance music.
Classics of the 30s and 40s, the Specialty era and the age of the bar walkers are their forte, though there are a couple less vintage numbers in the mix. Brian Setzer's green by comparison "Look At That Cadillac," for instance, fits the program to a T. The same can be said for Bill Heid's "Blowin' The Horn," a new composition straight out of the Illinois Jacquet sound/time machine. The lion's share of the tunes come from the source, though. Most benefit from the vocals of Garfield Angove, a legendary Motown harp player and singer who stows the harmonica for these tunes and lets the fellas do the cookin'. That they do, throughout. There's no escaping the Roomful of Blues comparisons that the octet have probably endured over the past couple of years. They sport pretty similar instrumental make up and mine the same stylistic territory. Indeed, the title cut and "I'm Just Your Fool" have made it onto RFOB discs over the years. None of that takes it away from the Millionaires.
Their version of "Strollin' With The Bone," a workout for guitarist Doug Deming, is a solid sender. Here, Larry Lamb's tenor, Roy Wachtel's bari and Andy Wickstrom's trumpet lay a deep cushion for Deming to play off of. The results are electrifying. The rhythm section of bassist Bob Conner, drummer Don Greundler, Jr. and pianist supreme Mark Loduca is so deep in the pocket they bringing up lint. On T-Bone Walker's "Tell Me What's The Reason," the horn line swings and sways behind Angove's impassioned vocals, and when they take on Buddy Johnson's "It Obodacious" ("ooh wee baby, goodness gracious/the way I love you, it's obodacious"), rugs are in danger of being cut on the spot.
These Millionaires keep more than a dollar in their pocket. They've got a gold mine of tunes. "Harlem Nocturne," done in an Ellingtonian style, Arnett Cobb's "Smooth Sailing," Joe Houston's roof shaking "Joe's Rock," and Buddy Johnson's great "I'm Just Your Fool" are all given first-rate readings by this first-class aggregation.
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