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Radam Schwartz: Blues Citizens

Woodrow Wilkins By

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One of the cool things about the relationship between jazz and blues is that both genres grew from the same emotional roots. At times, the only clear distinction is a subtle change in how notes are played. Is it jazz that sounds like the blues, or is it blues that sounds like jazz? On Hammond organist Radam Schwartz's Blues Citizens, the answer could be either—or both.

Schwartz has decades of experience, having worked with artists including David "Fathead" Newman, Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis and Victor Goines. Here, Schwartz is accompanied by tenor saxophonist Bill Saxton, alto saxophonist Bruce Williams, guitarist Eric Johnson and drummer Cecil Brooks III III.

"Dem Philadelphia Organ Blues" is textbook feel-good music. With Brooks' stick handling and Johnson's rhythm guitar, the saxophone duet leads while Schwartz uses the organ both for his share of the rhythm and to cover the bass line. Williams punches in a lively alto solo, with Schwartz and Johnson also enjoying features.

The title song struts along, with organ and cymbals in sync while the saxophones deliver a sassy melody. After Williams' solo and a repeat of the melody and chorus, Schwartz shows off, helped largely by Brooks.

The blues are in force on "I Don't Stand a Ghost of a Chance." The organ introduction sounds like a warm-up for a funeral. Saxton's tenor is brooding in the lead, particularly when it reaches its depth. Schwartz, Johnson and Brooks softly underscore, and Johnson also solos.

A true jazz fan also appreciates the blues, and vice-versa. Blues Citizens is an example of what's in store when the genres meet.

Track Listing: Dem Philadelphia Organ Blues; Driftin

Personnel: Radam Schwartz: Hammond B-3 organ; Bill Saxton: tenor saxophone; Bruce Williams: alto saxophone; Eric Johnson: guitar; Cecil Brooks III: drums; Kice: vocal (6).

Title: Blues Citizens | Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: Savant Records

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