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CD/LP/Track Review

Steve Wilkerson and Joey DeFrancesco: It's a Blues Sorta Thing

By Published: August 1, 2000
P> It's a Blues Sorta Thing is in the tradition of saxophone/organ combination whose practitioners have included the likes of Wild Bill Davis and Johnny Hodges, Gene Ammons and Brother Jack McDuff, Ben Webster and Groove Holmes. The adventurous, imaginative players on this album take the basic 12 bar blues and extend, expand, twist and put it through a wringer providing more than an hour of funky, swinging and sometimes sweet sounding music. Over dubbing of the sax parts andtheir ability to create a larger than life sound makes the group seem larger than it actually is. More often than not, given the enormity of the organ's voice, it tends to dominate. Not here. Steve Wilkerson's saxophones, Ron Eschete's guitar and James Gadson's drums hold their own with Joey De Francesco's Hammond B-3.

This is a "take no prisoners" album, everything hangs out. From Wilkerson's "The Chancellor" through the closing number, "Panini", another Wilkerson composition, all blues forms are dissected. On "Red Top" Wilkerson's sax is a mixture of the hard blowing of a Tony Pastor and Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis. In contrast, he turns tender (but tenderness with a bite) on the Errol Garner classic "Misty" as Plas Johnson comes to mind. Wilkerson also recalls a few bars from "Swanee River" along the way. Gadson puts down his drum sticks to sing "Everyday I Have the Blues", the blues anthem made famous by Joe Williams. The blues get a modern treatment on Nat Adderley's "Work Song" where Wilkerson's probing, hard driving sax is complemented by De Francesco's intense Hammond B-3 rumblings. But the highlight of the album for me is "Georgia on My Mind". There's some heavy gospel like "signifyin" going on here as Wilkerson spends time playing above the melody while Joe DeFrancesco's God-fearing organ is casting down fervent hallelujahs. This tune is also the stage for Ron Eschete to show off his awesome guitar technique. The whole affair is punctuated with a fun laden, tongue-in-cheek "Panini", Steve Wilkerson's variations on "Tequila". The album is highly recommended.

Tracks:The Chancellor; Red Top; Misty; It's You or No One; Everyday (I Have the Blues)*; The Work Song; It's a Blues Sorta Thing; Georgia on My Mind; Panini Intro; Panini

Personnel: Steve Wilkerson - Saxophones; Joey DeFrancesco - Hammond B-3 Organ; Ron Eschete - Guitar; James Gadson - Drums/Vocal*

Record Label: Dne

Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream



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