How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
This album has a rather presumptuous title, but then the completed effort has produced some pretty good results. Although the three guitarists have known each other for a long time, the only common bond is their New England heritage. Jay Geils founded the J. Geils Band, one of the most popular rock bands of the late 1970s and early 1980s, based out of Boston. Geils reports that he was a jazzer as a youth and was musically distracted by the opportunity to lead a rock band. Duke Robillard, from Rhode Island, founded the long running Roomful of Blues Group in '67, has recorded extensively in a blues, jump blues and even postwar swing era combo, and was awarded a W.C. Handy "Best Guitarist" Award four times. Gerry Beaudoin is regarded as one of New England's most respected guitarists and educators. He spent years working with blues and jazz combos, including those led by Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson, more recently recording and appearing with the guitarist/mandolinist David Grisman.
There really isn't too much on this album not to like, although some vocals come pretty close. The twelve tunes are a combination of standards and three tasty Beaudoin originals. The two Benny Goodman-associated tracks, "Bennies Bugle" and "Seven Come Eleven," suggest an homage to Charlie Christian's role as a pioneer of jazz guitar in the modern era, and in general the music is a retro appreciation of the small combo postwar swing groups in which the guitar played a major part.
Although the three guitarists come from different musical directions, they are all playing on the same wavelength here. It is reasonably difficult to make the solo distinctions amongst the trio but generally Geils plays with a more metallic sound than the others. The difference between his solos and those of Robillard or Beaudoin is manifested in the latter's full ringing notes, with far more plucked tone than Geils. On the Vinson "Backdoor Blues," Geils makes a strong blues statement, compared to the equally effective Beaudoin solo in the style of Herb Ellis.
Not to quibble over minor points, the album is a pleasure to absorb and appreciate. The players are all enjoying themselves and the fine performances just keep coming one after another. A few vocals are included, and although this offers some variety in programming, they are not necessary. Robillard tackles "Never Say Never Again Again" in a barroom baritone and is a bit more effective on "Backdoor Blues," done in the style of "Cleanhead" Vinson. Beaudoin makes a rare vocal appearance on "Ain't Nobody's Business" with the vocal choruses separating the guitar solos.
As an extra added dessert, the final track is a bonus CD-Rom lengthy video performance of "Swing With Dr.Jake," offering a new dimension to the package.
Track Listing: Bennies Bugle, Never Say Never Again Again, Swing with Dr.Jake, Ain't Nobody's Business, Lady B.Good, Azzure Mineur, Just Among Friends, Perdido, Backdoor Blues, Seven Come Eleven, Glide On, Swing With Dr.Jake (video)
Personnel: Jay Geils, electric guitar; Duke Robillard, electric guitar, acoustic rhythm guitar, vocals; Gerry Beaudoin, 6-string electric and 7-string electric guitar, vocal; John Turner,bass; Gordon Grottenthaler,drums.