Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

316

Victor Nesrallah: Based in Blues

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
While Ottawa, Canada may not seem the most fertile place for a blues community, the city has produced its share of fine players, including Tony D and Sue Foley. Its annual blues festival is considered, next to Chicago's, to be North America's premier blues event, with tens of thousands of fans crowding to see a wide range of artists. And with clubs like The Rainbow, it's possible to catch local acts any day of the week.

Victor Nesrallah has always had his fingers in a lot of pies, as evidenced by the rock-inflected Always Dreaming (Free Flying Music, 1994) and Blood From the Stone (Free Flying Music, 1999)—a well-received world music album blending his Lebanese roots with a personal style gained through 25 years of experience as a singer/songwriter. But he's always been informed by the blues—sometimes directly, elsewhere in more subtle ways.

So it was perhaps inevitable that Nesrallah would one day pay homage to the blues artists who have influenced him since his earliest days, including Taj Mahal, Willie Dixon, and Luther Allison. Based in Blues is an all-acoustic affair, recorded in his home studio in downtown Ottawa with a minimum of fuss. Throughout these eleven self- penned songs, Nesrallah demonstrates that the blues roots run deep, despite the variety displayed throughout. Mixing the topical with more traditional themes like "love's done me wrong, Nesrallah's album has a fresh, rootsy vibe that makes for an engaging listen.

"The Wannabe Club opens up with a Bo Diddley rock beat carried by one guitar, over which Nesrallah layers two dobro tracks. He's always possessed an attractive tenor, with a relaxed delivery and a strong range; here he adds the slightest hint of rasp to lend additional authenticity. "Fear is Everywhere is a more straightforward blues which addresses the state of fear that's become endemic in the public's consciousness.

With only a couple of acoustic guitars and hand percussion, "The Shape I'm In rocks along insistently. The majority of the album explores a variety of drop-D tunings, giving Nesrallah's basic rhythm track depth and fullness. He's no virtuoso, but he has an instinctive ability to choose the right notes at the right time, making his slide work on dobro tasteful and understated. Eschewing overdubbing of any kind, "Jump In is the most reverential blues piece on the disc—one acoustic guitar, one voice—and in its stark simplicity, the most effective track.

Keith Snider—another local musician who shares a weekly duo gig with Nesrallah playing fiddle, mandolin, and banjo—is heard on the haunting minor blues "You Made a Fool Outta Me. Like Nesrallah, his accompaniment—in this case on banjo—is more about creating a feeling than suggesting any kind of formidable ability, although he's a fine player.

While Nesrallah's laid-back style adapts easily to everything from folk to world music and more, Based in Blues may be the most direct and honest record he's released to date. For fans of rootsy acoustic blues, Based in Blues is just what the doctor ordered.


Track Listing: The Wannabe Club; Fear is Everywhere; The Shape I'm In; Hard Time Blues; Trouble on My Mind; Jump In; You Made a Fool Outta Me; Think for Yourself; The Resurrection; Memories of a Boy; Forgive and Forget.

Personnel: Victor Nesrallah: guitars, vocals, percussion; Keith Snider: banjo (7).

Title: Based in Blues | Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: Free Flying Music

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Shop

Start your shopping here and you'll support All About Jazz in the process. Learn how.

Related Articles

Read Fred Hersch Trio '97 @ The Village Vanguard Album Reviews
Fred Hersch Trio '97 @ The Village Vanguard
By Mark Sullivan
January 16, 2019
Read SJZ Collective Reimagines Monk Album Reviews
SJZ Collective Reimagines Monk
By Doug Collette
January 16, 2019
Read Swingin' In Seattle, Live At The Penthouse 1966-1967 Album Reviews
Swingin' In Seattle, Live At The Penthouse 1966-1967
By Mike Jurkovic
January 16, 2019
Read Hydro 2 Album Reviews
Hydro 2
By Vitalijus Gailius
January 16, 2019
Read Heritage Album Reviews
Heritage
By Tyran Grillo
January 15, 2019
Read Do Not Be Afraid Album Reviews
Do Not Be Afraid
By Gareth Thompson
January 15, 2019
Read Fairgrounds Album Reviews
Fairgrounds
By Roger Farbey
January 15, 2019

Warning: Creating default object from empty value in /home/websites/allaboutjazz.com/www/html/content/chunks/overlay/aaj-sitemap.php on line 5