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Album Review

Frank Macchia: Bluezapalooza

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Frank Macchia: Bluezapalooza
Frank Macchia has recorded some serious sounds in his day. Landscapes (Cacophony, 2008), for instance, with The Prague Orchestra, was a sweeping masterpiece of an album which should have won him some sort of Aaron Copland Award (It was nominated for a Grammy). But the reedist-composer-arranger also has a fun side, with albums like 2012's Swamp Thang (Cacophony), which offered up a set of grungy bayou boogies, blues, funk and New Orleans second line, all in an instrumental setting.

Bluezapalooza takes that concept deeper, moving into earthy blues grooves, with lead vocals from Macchia himself, and Larry Walker on three tunes: "The Long Goodbye," "Sittin' In My Backyard," and "Anxious Man (With A Furball)." Both singers bring James Cotton's gruff, gravelly vocal delivery to mind; Cotton played harmonica in the bands of Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf in his early days, then broke away and established himself as a terrific band leader and vocalist in his own right.

And some fun? Of Macchia's tune "Fang" (he wrote and arranged them all here), the composer says of the lyric content: "No deep meaning...just a fun romp." This sums up the entire album. Fun blues, some with some polish, others with some dirt on them, featuring crisp arrangements, featuring Ken Rosser's wailing guitar licks (Rosser has a masters degree in classical guitar, but has no problem rolling around in the blues), powerful woodwind backdrops (along with keyboards) from Macchia, drummer Brock Avery's charging rhythms, Nick Hafarcma's funky bass lines and Tracy London's subtle backing vocal embellishments, all put together to make a credible, hard-charging blues album which leans to the the traditional style while reaching up high into the twenty-first century.

Track Listing

Circus Glee; Alligator In My Fridgerator; Sittin' In My Backyard; Treadmill; Fang; The Long Goodbye; My Torment; Anxious Manx; Anxiety; I'm Goin' Crazy.

Personnel

Frank Macchia: composer/conductor; Ken Rosser: guitar; Brock Avery: drums; Nick Hafarcam: bass; Tracy London: voice / vocals; Larry Walker: voice / vocals.

Additional Instrumentation

Frank Macchia: vocals, keyboards, woodwinds, compositions, lyrics; Larry Walker: vocals (3, 6, 8).

Album information

Title: Bluezapalooza | Year Released: 2021 | Record Label: Cacophony


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