Jimmy McIntosh: Orleans to London (2007)

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Jimmy McIntosh: Orleans to London
It's high time we had another rock guitar hero. Jimmy McIntosh is by no means a newcomer, having honed his chops as a sideman in Las Vegas for the past 25 years. But Orleans to London is no slick pop affair. With gritty grooves, chops-laden but always tasteful guitar work and just the slightest hint of jazz, it's as potent an instrumental rock guitar debut as you're likely to find.

Recorded in New Orleans and London, McIntosh has collected an A list of players—most notably three Nevilles (organists Ivan and Art alongside percussionist Cyril), as well as Neville Brothers drummer "Mean Willie Green—for a collection of largely original songs that simmer with a greasy funk, providing a visceral backdrop for McIntosh's bluesy, overdriven tone.

McIntosh also brings in other friends—Rolling Stone's Ronnie Wood guests on five tracks, and also brought in Jeff Beck for three tracks, credited here as "Hot Rod. But while both of these high-profile players add substantially to tunes like the Allman Brothers-ish "It Was a Virus (the album's sole vocal track, featuring Ivan Neville), it's still McIntosh who's front and center. That said, while there's plenty of in-the-gut playing, McIntosh never grandstands. There's precious little shredding to be found, just energetic solo work that fits hand-in-glove with the strong rhythm section anchored by bassist Rochon Westmoreland and, on a handful of tracks, drummer Pepe Jiminez.

McIntosh augments his jam-centric material, with a mid-tempo take on The Rolling Stones' "Slave and a 10-minute look at Jimi Hendrix's "Third Stone From the Sun. It's always risky to tackle Hendrix, but McIntosh replaces Hendrix's psychedelic musings with some of his most reckless playing and an impressive solo spot for Westmoreland—the disc's other unexpected surprise.

McIntosh cites a wide range of influences, from Jim Hall and Wes Montgomery to Mike Stern and Scott Henderson. There's little direct jazz-centricity here, but every now and then McIntosh throws in a line that tells you his language extends beyond a blues and rock vernacular. The dark "Woody is the album's most harmonically rich tune, with a set of changes that would give any self-respecting jazzer plenty to work with. He demonstrates further breadth on the album closer, a brief solo acoustic guitar reading of the traditional "The Minstral Boy.

Slight stylistic departures aside, Orleans to London is really all about the funk. That and the arrival of a guitarist on the scene who, if there's any justice, will be heard more from in future. That McIntosh has a quarter century of experience behind him but is only now stepping out into the spotlight just means that sometimes one has to wait for the right time.

Track Listing: Biker Babe; It Was a Virus; Mama Funk; G-Spot; Woody; A.K.A. Papa Funk; Slave; Fifty Five; Rogent; Third Stone From the Sun; The Minstral Boy.

Personnel: Jimmy McIntosh: guitars, acoustic guitar (11); Ivan Neville: organ (1, 2, 4, 6-8), vocal (2); Rochon Westmoreland: bass (1-8, 10); Pepe Jiminez: drums (1, 5, 9); Cyril Neville: percussion (1-8, 10); Ronnie Wood: guitar (2, 9), baritone guitar (3, 4, 7); Hot Rod: guitar (2, 4, 9); Mean Willie Green: drums (2-4, 6-8, 10); Art Neville: organ (3); Phil Wigfall: tenor saxophone (7); Tom Warrington: acoustic bass (9).

Record Label: Arizona Club Records

Style: Funk/Groove

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