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Boots Randolph: A Whole New Ballgame (2007)

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Boots Randolph: A Whole New Ballgame How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

Homer Louis Randolph III was born in Paducah, Kentucky in 1927. He has recorded widely since the 1950s, providing his unique Southern tenor saxophone sound on recordings as varied as Roy Orbison ("Oh, Pretty Woman ), REO Speedwagon's cover of Chuck Berry's ("Little Queenie"), Al Hirt("Java"), Jerry Lee Lewis ( "Turn On Your Lovelight") and Brenda Lee("Rockin' 'Round The Christmas Tree"). Still, Homer Louis Randolph III is mainly known for the Country and Western novelty tune "Yakety Sax. Yes, this is Homer Louis Randolph III—aka Boots Randolph.

Randolph joins Joachim Becker's "Roots imprint of Zoho Music, alongside Bonnie Bramlett's Roots, Blues, and Jazz (2006), Ike Turner's Roots, Blues, and Jazz (2006), and Jimmy Hall's Build Your Own Fire (2007). I am not sure where Becker's A&R genius is emerging from, but keep it coming.

Randolph is definitely a country music artist. The best way to describe his approach is to say that he plays like George Jones sings—impeccably, and with a precision never given to sloppiness or fluff notes. A Whole New Ball Game is a very diverse recording with elements that should appeal to listeners of jazz, popular, and country music. "I'm Beginning to See the Light has a country-gospel personality and a sunny disposition only sharpened by Randolph's huge tone.

Charlie Parker's "Billie's Bounce (misspelled on the disc as "Billy's Bounce ) is a breezy bop walk appropriately accented by pianist Steve Willets and guitarist Roddy Smith. This is not your mother's bebop; then again, maybe it is. "I'll Be Seeing You and "Cry Me a River border on the ultra-sentimental with synthesized strings and Lawrence Welk Show pacing, but in no way is it bad. The song appeals to this writer's sense of nostalgia for just those reasons.

"Take Me out to the Ball Game is pure bop while the old Louis Armstrong standard "Candy is full of gospel music smells and bells. "Basically Blues is what all fans of the "Texas Tenor sound should be waiting for because Randolph delivers with a full-throated performance that thrills. If you are expecting John Coltrane blues, forget it. This is straight down the middle. "'Round Midnight is deftly played, even though it might be considered outside of Randolph's milieu. "Stompin' at the Savoy is all swing.

A Whole New Ballgame is a fun nostalgic romp by a capable veteran. Many readers may think it is "square (to use the old vernacular). But one thing the disc cannot be denied is its honesty and sincerity. If you don't believe it, listen to the solo fragment on "Nature Boy that closes the disc.

Track Listing: Im Beginning to See the Light; Billys Bounce; Ill Be Seeing You; Take Me Out to the Ballgame; Candy; Basically Blues; Round Midnight; Dream Dancing; Stompin at the Savoy; Cry Me a River; L-O-V-E; Youll Never Know; Ill Walk Alone; Nature Boy.

Personnel: Boots Randolph: tenor sax; Roddy Smith: guitars; Steve Willets: piano; Tim Smith: bass; Ray Von Rotz: drums and percussion; Jason Webb: keyboard strings; Mark Stallings: Hammond B-3.

Record Label: Zoho Music

Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


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