Back in 1978, Tom Lavin and a group of friends formed a house band in Vancouver's Gastown. Almost thirty years later, the Canadian band is still chugging along. Time has ensured that they have a more universal presence with, among other international concerts, events at Montreux and in Russia, where Melodiya Records released the live recording. Blazz! boasts blues and jazz and, of course, a ripe dose of rock 'n' roll, all of which go to make a heck of a solid album with groove.
The blues prime up and boogie when the musicians go "Cooking With The Blues, a thumping song that heralds good times. The playing is tight and compact, and the saxophone pegs the earthiness. There are enough Lavin originals like this to show that he continues to write strong material. "Swami Swing is rather aptly named, for while there may not be a swami in sight, it swings on Lavin's guitar, the horns adding a curtain of counterpoint before Mike Kalanj's Hammond organ oozes sweetness.
The band does a welcome cover of the Boz Scaggs tune "Runnin' Blue, with a dry edginess in the vocals and a deep bluesy feel from the guitar. There's jazz, too, when they "Take The 'A' Train. The singing is not classic jazz, but Lavin does have that sense of rhythm, and the inherent feel extends through the light swing of the instrumentation.
Track Listing: Cooking With The Blues; Runnin Blue; Well Do It; Things are Getting Better; Send Out For A
Bucket Of Beer; Take The A Train; Aint That Loving You; Lets Get Loose; Disappearing Baby
Blues; Blame It On The Blues; Swami Swing.
Personnel: Tom Lavin: guitar, vocals; Bill Runge: bass, alto and baritone saxophone, clarinet; Bill Hicks:
drums; Miles Black: piano; Ron Johnson: piano (6); Mike Kalanj: piano (1,3), Hammond organ;
Paul Baron: trumpet; Vincent Mai: trumpet; Rod Murray: trombone; Pat Caird: tenor
saxophone; Jerry Cook: tenor saxophone; Ross Taggart: saxophone.
The first jazz record I bought was Bill Evans' Sunday at the Village Vanguard. When I was in high school, I somehow stumbled
across the track My Man's Gone Now and was instantly transfixed. It was the most beautiful thing I'd ever heard. So I saved up
(times were hard for a teenager back then) and went out and bought the album.
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