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Wild Card: Life Stories

Jerome Wilson By

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When British youth started picking up on the music coming out of America in the Fifties and Sixties their tastes were widespread. While some kids loved the early rock & roll of Chuck Berry and Buddy Holly or the blues of Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf, others grabbed onto the jazz played by the likes of Mose Allison and Jimmy Smith and saw nothing wrong with combining all three. That concept evolved over decades, scooping up other types of music and producing a unit like Wild Card that swallows blues, soul, funk and Caribbean music to produce its own lively and unique idea of jazz.

The basic group is the trio of Clement Regert, Sophie Alloway and Andrew Noble with a rotating cast of other musicians adding their sounds to various tracks. Between Regert's serpentine guitar strumming, Noble's simmering organ, and Alloway's choppy drum beats, the main trio put together infectious and undulating grooves, often enhanced by whirling unison horn sections. This shows in the bumpy up and down motion of "Better Remorse Than Regret" and on "Bravid" where Noble skids and slides along his organ like Brian Auger. Regert's guitar often colors the direction of the music. On "La parenthese enchantee" he brings in a lilting Spanish flavor and on "Maybe...Maybe Not" his iridescent strumming shows an African pop influence.

Aside from those percolating grooves, there is a lot of variety in the other tracks on this CD. "Beat The Beast" is slamming funk in the James Brown mold with Regert's trebly guitar trading phrases with Noble's cruising organ and Jim Knight taking a howling Maceo Parker-like alto solo. "Risky Business" is a sunny waltz with the atmosphere of a Parisian street fair. The horns soar together and harmonica player Adam Glasser and trumpeter Graeme Flowers take dancing solos alongside Regert's chiming notes and Alloway's slippery rhythm. "Mommy Is In The Sky" is a simple, solemn ballad sung movingly by Mary Pearce over gentle soul guitar licks and subdued horns and climaxed by a forceful gospel tenor sax solo by Denys Baptiste.

A couple of classic British rock songs become grist for the Wild Card mill as well. The Rolling Stones' "Paint It Black" gets a shiny reggae-funk makeover with Mary Pearce wailing the lyrics over a chugging organ-horn groove before Carl Hudson comes in with a woozy synthesizer solo. Meanwhile Pink Floyd's doomy "Another Brick In The Wall" becomes an itchy jazz-funk shuffle with Flowers and Hudson both contributing steamy, exuberant solos as Regert, Noble, Alloway and percussionist Will Fry push the groove forcefully.

Wild Card is a trio with tons of energy and a knack for combining many different sounds and stirring them all together into one funky pot. This is gritty and soulful music with a lot of different flavors to it. They must be amazing to see live.

Track Listing: Life Stories Intro; Better Remorse Than Regret; Paint It Black; La Parenthese Enchantée; Beat The Beast; Mommy Is In The Sky; Risky Business; Bravid; Another Brick In The Wall; Maybe…Maybe Not; Herman’s Hoedown.

Personnel: Clément Régert: guitars; Andrew Noble: Hammond organ; Graeme Flowers: trumpet; Will Fry: percussion; Sophie Alloway: drums; Mary Pearce: vocals (3, 6); Carl Hudson: synthesizers (3, 9); Jim Knight: alto saxophone (1, 4, 5, 7, 10, 11); Denys Baptiste: tenor saxophone (2, 3, 6, 8) Alistair White: trombone (2, 3, 6, 8, 9); Adam Glasser: harmonica (7).

Title: Life Stories | Year Released: 2018 | Record Label: Top End Records

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