Singer, songwriter and guitarist, this Santa Monica, Calif. native spent more than 10 years in two of the most important guitar chairs in bluesdom: John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers and Albert Collin’s Icebreakers. On his own in the 1990s, Montoya demonstrates great skill in all areas, with a particularly beautiful singing voice that he uses to great effect.
Besides being Collins and Mayall’s protégé, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Eric Clapton are obvious guitar influences upon the 49-year-old slinger. The 12-track "Suspicion" follows 1997’s highly successful "Just Let Go," which was released on San Francisco’s Blind Pig Records.
After listening to Montoya’s latest, one thing that sticks in your mind is the integrity and quality of the "major" label’s recordings. The week that this CD arrived in the mail, this writer had, for the most part, reviewed mostly independent releases. While this normally is not a problem (and it is not), there is a difference—sometimes a big difference—between the recording and production quality amongst the two. "Suspicion’s" timbre and resonation is of the highest quality, and one can really distinguish and enjoy some of the proficient phrasing from pianist Benny Yee and Tommy Eyre, drummers Randy Hayes and Tony Braunagle, rhythm guitarists Chuck Kirkpatrick and David Steen, the horn section of trumpeter Steve Howard, tenor saxophonist Jon Smith and baritone saxophonist Jeff Robbins as well as the many others joining the session.
There are many stellar moments occurring on the multi-dimensional and Jim Gaines (SRV, Santana, Luther Allison) produced "Suspicion." The touching and closing "Nothing But Love," which "is dedicated to the memory of Albert Collins, Ernest ‘Pappy’ Gaines, Walter Swofford, Barbara Labbruzzo, Susan DeVito and Rabbit Warren," as well as the up-tempo cover of Larry Dunn’s "What I Now Know" both find Montoya locating the appropriate pockets and laying down adept guitar solos to boot—very nice.
This review is copyright © 2000 by Matt Alcott, 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.