Big Joe Maher is one of the swingingest drummers in the business. That he's an exceptional vocalist, too, is just sweet frosting. This is indeed one of the most swinging affairs of the past few years. The Dynaflows are a sleek and well-oiled machine that Big Joe drives with authority. Working out of a Roy Brown/Louis Jordan jump bag, Joe and the fellas (usually guitarist Alex Schultz, Jeff Sarli on bass, and Kevin McKendree on keys -- with Kaz Kazanoff and Joe Stanley wailin' the horn section) are as authentic and true to the roots as they are flat out a blast to listen to.
Fourteen numbers and not a clinker in the bunch. These slick Dynaflows and Big Joe cover Jordan, B.B. King, Ray Charles, and Smiley Lewis (pointing to Joe's New Orleans fixation), and toss in a handful of originals that sound like they're out of the same 40s and 50s bag.
Highlights abound. Little Milton's "My Baby Pleases Me," featuring John Cocuzzi's swingin' vibes, Roscoe Gordon's great "Let's Get High" and Ray Charles' "On The Other Hand Baby" are given exceptionally impressive treatments, but the original "Big Long Buick" ("with that Dynaflow drive") is the standout. Schultz shares guitar lines with Ivan Appelrouth, Cocuzzi takes a turn at the piano bench, and that in-the-pocket rhythm section of Maher and Sarli is the tightest combo on the road. Give points, too, to "Lil Phil's Shuffle" and "Lex Meets Big," as both feature more of John Cocuzzi's vibraphone work. Last time we heard vibes on a jump disc was ... when?
Given the dearth of CD releases these days, finding one to stand above the crowd may take a bit of sleuthing. While you're looking, put this one up close to the top of the list.
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Millersville, MD 21108
This review is copyright © 2000 by Mark E. Gallo, and Blues On Stage, all rights reserved.