From the first bars of "Get Out of My Life, Woman, which feature Joe Sample banging out a funky left hand rift, to Nils Landgren's laid-back vocals on "Soul Shadows, one thing is obvious about their new recording: Creole Love Call
is all about New Orleans. Landgren and Sample got together to make this record and celebrate the city in May of 2005, a few short months before Hurricane Katrina. It's a testament to the fact that New Orleans is a spiritual home to musicians and music lovers alike, whether or not they've ever been to the Crescent City.
For the most part, the tunes are funky and accessible, but in no way dumbed down. "The Brightest Smile in Town suggests a song that could be played over a sad montage in a Nora Ephron film (you can decide if that is a good thing or not). "Sittin' on the Dock of the Bay, with guest vocals from Ray Parker, Jr., is well-executed, but leaves you wondering what the point was. It may be because the song is so familiar from the pop music lexicon, but it seems that the talented personel on this disc could have spent their time on a tune that presented more challenges. Challenges that they are all more than capable of meeting.
They rise to the occasion several times on the disc. Sample's playing is inventive and funky throughout. He displays his usual deft mix of straight-ahead jazz, blues and gospel. Landgren's vocals are warm and relaxed, proving that he is just as much at home singing as he is playing the trombone. His instrumental chops show no sign of fading, though, and his solo on "Soul Shadows is a particular standout. "Same Old Story and "Creole Love Call, the last two tracks on the disc, capture both the looseness and the formality of New Orleans.
Creole Love Call presents a simple, romantic vision of New Orleans, where Jelly Roll wasn't a self aggrandizing character, Satchmo never had to deal with institutionalized racism, and Fats Domino never had to flee his home because of a natural disaster made worse by government ineptitude. Maybe now, more than ever, we need a little of this kind of romance. This funky, upbeat offering from Sample, Landgren and friends is just what the doctor ordered.
Personnel: Nils Landgren: trombone and vocals; Joe Sample: acoustic piano and Fender Rhodes; Ray
Parker Jr: guitar and vocals; Chris Severin: acoustic bass; Raymond Weber: drums; Lenny
Castro: percussion; Sammie Williams: trombone (11,12); Leon Brown and Andrew Baham:
trumpet (11,12); Kirk Joseph: sousaphone (11,12); Charmaine Neville: vocals (8).