Donít let the lack of name recognition stop you from listening to this CD. Even before I heard Owensí first CD True Blue (TCo2932) I was intrigued by the idea of the blues orchestra. I wasnít disappointed. Neither will you.
Calvin Owens, like a number of underrecognized musicians, played in the BB
King band. He was the musical director from 1978-1984. Itís easy to understand why Mr. King wanted this guy. Owens knows how to blow the roof off of his trumpet. Itís rare to hear the trumpet as the lead instrument on blues solos. Itís a rare treat to hear Owens play without any restrictions. Itís basically his show this time around.
He gets to stretch out on the songs "True Blue " and "Vincent Van Gogh." There are
three instrumentals on the CD. I like Ďem because they donít fall into cliched jazz riffing. The instrumentals stay on the blues side. Is there a more versatile, soulful sax
player than David "Fathead' Newman? He does his usual stellar work on the tunes "Take Time to Love" and "The Dog." I counted 29 people in orchestra as listed on the
CD. It takes a mighty talent to arrange all these pieces and Owens pulls it off
Owens cuts loose on the vocal side as well. His gruff tenor wails out the title cut Ď Thatís Your Booty". The title says it all, typical blues fare about the dalliances between men and women. Many would say his voice is untrained, rough, or lacking range but I like it. To me it sounds honest and bluesy. I would have liked to hear more of his singing but alas he has "resorted" to using some other vocalists. Weíre in luck because Calvin has the good sense to choose some well-honed , interesting vocalists.
One of the vocalists that surprised me was Archie Bell. An old crony of Owens, I expected him to break out with a line from his hit "Tighten Up." That was many a year ago and his voice isnít so high and is very expressive. It works beautifully. On the songs. "Texas Red Shuffle" and "All My Fault."
Bell shows why he is still a hit in his native Houston . Mr. soul-man himself, Otis Clay, contributes two fine vocal leads on "The Blues I Have For You" and the Bob Jones-penned "Eat Where You Slept." It's hard to go wrong with a Bob Jones song but it will be hard for anyone else to top this version with the tight arrangement Owens' gives it and Clay's plaintive vocal. Ruby Wilson, whom I've never heard of before contributed some gospel-styled vocals on the tune "One of Those Nights."
I cannot name another person who stands out as a trumpet player in the blues
field. Even if Calvin Owens was the only one, I'd still like his music.
Calvin Owens is expected to release a new CD sometime this year. I can't wait
to hear it. If you don't have this and his previous release "True Blue" I recommend you go out and get it now. And do as Calvin says: Enjoy!
Sawdust Alley Productions
3421 Southmore Boulevard
Houston, TX 77004
713-529-8275 or 1877-623-5048
This review is copyright © 2000 by Putnay Thomas, and Blues On Stage, 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.