The opening version of Mayall's "Witch Doctor" is a clever jazzy take that features tasty guitar licks under CJ Smith's gravelly vocal. The following take on Hadda Brook's classic "In the Dark" sticks to the sexy blues root while adding an elastic jazz guitar underneath. That's the tone here. Neither a blues nor a jazz trio, BLUESplus sets a mood that generally works well. Their version of J.J. Cale's "Clyde" and an equally interesting version of Leon Russell's "Hummingbird" each take a giant step away from conformity. The Cale piece is played as a country blues with jazz guitars, while the Russell number highlights the jazz feel inherent in the piece. Both are songs that bring out the craftsmanship of the players, CJ Smith (vocals, piano, harmonica, acoustic guitar and percussion), Ian Wroe (Electric, acoustic and classical guitars and percussion), and Adrian Ingram (Electric slide guitars and percussion). Wroe's instrumental title piece is a wonderful interface between the guitarists and showcases the subtleties at their collective fingertips, calling to mind the intricacy of Lenny Breau. Smith's "Church Street Blues" is an introspective, thoughtful and delicate piece that showcases his vocals and fine songwriting. Not everything is a homerun. "New York State of Mind" should have never made it in the door, for instance, and as much as I want to like any song that claims an affinity with Tom Waits, "From a Parisian Café (Tom Waits for Norman)" is a bit flat.
Add their rollicking take on Big Joe Turner's "The Chicken and the Hawk" to this already diversified mix and what emerges is a trio that refuses to be boxed in.
The variety that spices this disc includes blues, but it's hardly the main dish.
String Jazz is a British label that concentrates on jazz artists like John Pisano, Dennis Budimir, Lenny Breau and Jay Graydon. This is something of a departure for the label. While it leans more to the label's avowed affinity for jazz, there is enough of a blues edge here to appeal to blues fans, or at least ears with an appreciation for fine guitar work. Find them at www.musicweb-uk.com/1020info.html
Your purchase through this Amazon.com link helps to support this website.
You can now order other CDs, books, and videos from Blues On Stage in association with Amazon.com. Simply click on the logo at the left and shop! They have some of the best prices on the web and even offer some used product at lower prices.
This review is copyright © 2003 by Mark E. Gallo, and Blues On Stage at: www.mnblues.com, all rights reserved. Copy, duplication or download prohibited without written permission. For permission to use this review please send an E-mail to Ray Stiles.
CLICK HERE to find out HOW YOU can make money on the internet!
Web Design SPECIAL, get your own website for just $50.
You can help support this blues website by making a contribution (click on the banner below for details).
Or mail a donation to: Ray Stiles % Blues On Stage, PO Box 582983, Mpls, MN 55458. Thanks!
Web Hosting & Design:
Web Hosting & Design.
Most affordable web hosting and design services available.
Find out how you can host your current site at Blues On Stage, or how I can help you design your own website!
If you would like your CD reviewed, please send TWO (2) copies, along with promotional material to:
Blues On Stage
PO Box 582983
Minneapolis, MN 55458-2983
E-mail Ray Stiles @ firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.