Based on the blues, Doug Wamble's modern mainstream jazz album combines heartfelt emotion with forward-looking creativity. He's managed to fold the roots of American music and classical music into his guitar presentation, which sparkles with anxiety. Dramatic energy invades each bar. As a vocalist, he's driven by the heart. Wamble's verbalizations, not the most polished, are suited to storytellin' with grit, and they eschew the lyrical beauty that follows most jazz singers throughout their careers.
Wamble emphasizes his powerful guitar imagery throughout the album. While five of the ten tracks on Bluestate feature his vocals, the emphasis remains upon his storytellin' and on the instrumental mix that he achieves with the piano trio. Together, they forge ahead with spirit. "No More Shrubs in Casablanca" represents a progressive jazz guitar fury that's apparently tinged by politics. "Rockin' Jerusalem" and "Washing of the Water" represent the traditional literature. "Stevie Wonder's "Have a Talk with God" moves solemnly with heartfelt charm, while "The Bear and the Toad" toy with country music pickin' and grinnin'.
Bluestate comes from an eclectic session that features four devoted artists. Not even a cameo by Branford Marsalis, however, can elevate their performance beyond the ordinary. By attacking so many directions at once and attempting to leapfrog jazz past its current borders, Wamble's quartet has missed its opportunity to define a centerpiece. His theme seems to rest with scattering seeds to the four winds.
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Personnel: Doug Wamble- guitar, vocals; Roy Dunlap- piano; Jeff Hanley- bass; Peter Miles- drums; Branford Marsalis- tenor saxophone on "Rockin' Jerusalem."