Maximum Blues Piano is an excellent choice of title for this powerhouse CD by the piano man himself, David Maxwell. The CD starts off with some heavy duty barrelhouse rambling on the keys, that'll get any party off to a roaring start, with "Blues Don't Bother Me". David just barrels through it with his piano in high gear. The horn section, featuring Gord Beadle and Mark Kaz Kazanoff both on tenor sax, as well as Ray Green on trombone, and Scott Aruda on trumpet add some zest and class to the proceedings. "Breakdown on the Bayou", the second great tune on this CD, is upbeat piano blues, that's highly polished in all the right places, to get the heart pumpin' and the foot tappin' Avery Parrish's "After Hours" is a beautiful, slow piano blues that's added to with class and style by special guest, Ronnie Earl's impeccable and bluesy guitar solo. It's atmosphere evokes the lazy, almost-asleep-but-still-playin' feel of a "booze can" on a very late Friday or Saturday night. "Sister Laura Lee" is an upbeat 'n' swingin' ditty, sure to get ya up on the dance floor with your favorite dance partner. David's swingin' 'n' dingin' ivories on this one could bring joy to the hearts of even the most disenchanted souls. David slows it right down again in "Down at P.J.'s Place", with some very Fats Waller type jazz licks, tinkling the ivories the max, allowing the allure of a '50's cocktail lounge to enter your living room. The style in this cut flows into some slow, sensuous blues, taking the listener club hopping to a south-side bluesy juke joint, then back to an uptown jazz club, for a late-night night cap.
Meade Lux Lewis' "Honky Tonk Train", the second of only two non-originals on the CD, starts off it's birth with a little high-brow jazz, then jokingly jumps into some very upbeat and energetic honky tonk piano, boogie woogie - Go Man Go !!! I don't know if I can keep up! I guess I'll just sit back and enjoy this seven minute testament to the
beer joints of San Franciso's waterfront district, circa 1900. Cacophonic jazz chordal synthesis ends the euphoria of "Honky Tonk… ", which appropriately leads into some high-spirited funky blues called "Heart Attack." You could almost have a soul attack, with the congested arterial musical funkiness present in this well-executed tune. Special
guest, Darrell Nulisch's extremely soulful vocals on this one, had me believing he was a very funky black guy, until I checked the credits and realized otherwise. I've seen Darrell as part of legendary harp player James Cotton's band, recently, along with David on keys, and Mike Williams on guitar, or I would definitely think Darrell's soulful vocal renderings had indeed come from a very funky black dude.
Time to catch our breaths again, while yet another tune featuring special guest guitarist Ronnie Earl, cooks up some very sweet 'n' bluesy guitar licks on "Deep Into It", followed by David's equally bluesy keys solo. More barrelhouse Maxwell keys, backed up by his impeccable band, leads into some well-crafted and imaginative Maxwell jazz rhythms on the ivories. Some more hot piano virtuosity, is offered up with joy and
vigor by David, in "Walk the Walk". "Manhattan Max (Boppin' wit da Chippies)", is a big band type high-energy showcase, featuring some very nice sax soloing, followed by David's high energy piano tinklings, cruisin' along full speed ahead, on highway 88. The last fantastic tune on Maximum Blues Piano, is "Take Me On Home", an emotional tearjerker, where the whole band has something special to say musically, as they bid
fond farewell to their musical compadres. Maxwell's piano renderings seem to say "sorry ta see ya go…choke", while the sax answers back "me too, we too!". In the end, all the instruments shake hands in musical phrases known only to them, and felt by the listener. The last few phrases are mildly upbeat and positive, seemingly reflecting on how we
the listener, and the boys in David Maxwell's fine band know….we'll do it all again real soon.
Artist: David Maxwell (James Cotton's keyboard player)
CD: Maximum Blues Piano
Label: Tone-Cool # TC 34047-1160-2
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This review is copyright © 2003 by Joe Curtis, 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.
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