It is clear that no one could ever attempt to claim that guitarist/bandleader Duke Robillard is not versatile. During a career that spans five decades, Robillard has actively performed in a number of musical styles including rockabilly, rock and roll, blues and jazz. He was a founding member of the seminal East Coast band Roomful of Blues and performed as a "permanent" member of a number of Robert Gordon's band and replaced Jimmie Vaughan as the lead guitarist for the Fabulous Thunderbirds. In between these forays and currently, Robillard has performed as a solo act with his bands the Pleasure Kings, Duke Robillard Band and the Duke Robillard Quintet. As a result, his records reflect all of these styles, as well as some unique hybrids incorporating those styles.
Duke Robillard's latest CD is entitled Exalted Lover. The CD features ten new songs, including eight written by Robillard. Along with his regular band including Jesse Williams (bass), Matt McCabe (keyboards), Doug James (saxophone) and Mark Teixeira (drums), the lineup for the recording includes duets with Pam Tillis and Debbie Davies, along with appearances by Sax Gordon, Marty Ballou and others. Exalted Lover demonstrates the breadth of Robillard's talents as a guitarist, singer and songwriter. The musical journey served up by Robillard on the CD includes everything from stinging Chicago-style guitar to the smoother, jazzier styles offered in his work with Herb Ellis.
Highlights on Exalted Lover include the opening horn-based R+B tune, "Down Home Country Girl," the stripped down rock and roll feeling of "Real Live Wire" and the smooth jazz-blues flavor of "Exalted Lover," the CD's title track. Duke's jazzier side comes out in full view on "Double X Daddy," a song that includes a nice piano solo by McCabe and well-presented vocals by Robillard. A country feel emerges on "Love Made A Liar Out Of Me" a song that includes some nice guitar. Duke's guitar work is also notable on the slow blues, "Deep Inside," as well as on "Tore Up" and "Travelin' Mood." Of particular note on the CD are Robillard's vocal duet with Pam Tillis on the doo-wop feeling "I'll Never Be Free" and his vocal duet/guitar duel on "How Long Has It Been" with the talented Debbie Davies.
Exalted Lover is the latest in a long line of excellent recordings featuring the exceptional work of Duke Robillard. More information about Duke Robillard or Exalted Lover can be found by visiting the Stony Plains Records website at www.stonyplainrecords.com or the Duke Robillard website at www.dukerobillard.com.
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