How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
In post-World War II America, two new strains of jazz competed for the public's attention: the bop of Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie, and the honking jump-blues made famous by saxophonists Red Prysock and Big Jay McNeely, among others. The latter style nearly died out with the advent of rock 'n roll, but a succession of maverick saxmen and a few avid record collectors kept the flame burning. Sax Gordon is one of the best saxophone wailers to come along in years.
Gordon's breed has often been dissed by the jazz intelligentsia. Though their music is largely improvised, new honkers and screamers are today labeled "blues artists," and we blues aficionados welcome them to the fold with open arms.
Sax Gordon (real name Gordon Beadle) is a hard-blowing tenor man whose original tunes and covers ignore the line between blues, jazz and R&B. A former member of Roomful of Blues and the Duke Robillard Band, Gordon is one of the most in-demand sax players in the blues biz. His second solo release is every bit the equal of his widely praised debut Have Horn Will Travel.
>From King Curtis-style R&B ("BY-YA") to swingin' jump (the title track) to rocket-fast blues ("Speed Rack"), Gordon makes sensational party music, much of it original. For instance, Beadle and baritone player Doug James combine jump blues with bop on the delightfully eccentric "Lorenzo Leaps In," a cut that gets very intense. Even Beadle's slow numbers ("Crawling Home") are hot and sweaty.
"Lonely for You" (by Alvin "Red" Tyler) and "Big Mouth" sound like stripper tunes from '50s. In fact, Beadle is quoted thusly in Billy Vera's excellent booklet notes: "I was born in the wrong time. I should have played sax in streaptease bars. I know I could'a inspired those girls to their best."
If there's anything to complain about, it's Beadle's occasional spoken vocals, which grow tedious on some cuts. But as an instrumentalist, Beadle's the closest cat to Red Prysock currently wailing on saxophone, and that's saying something.
Additional accolades to Duke Robillard for his guitar playing and production, and to his band for the spirited backup.