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New Orleans-based Chris Cortez is a guitarist, singer, songwriter, bandleader, and businessman. He founded the Blue Bamboo label and has recorded a few albums in the recent past. Blue Bamboo is located in Slidell, Louisiana, just a short distance from the French Quarter.
How best to describe the dozen selections on Mum Is The Word? If you were to take the spirit of the King Cole Trio and filter it through the current John Pizzarelli ensemble and then factor in a looser N'awlins lounge atmosphere, you'd be getting pretty close! The guitar/bass/drums combination is augmented by piano, percussion, and occasional organ and horns.
The set list here in a combination of crowd-pleasing standards like "Sweet Georgia Brown," "Honeysuckle Rose," and "Lazy River" done mostly as instrumentals, along with the Cortez originals. The Bonfa classic "Manha de Carnival" is presented as a bossa with the helpful addition of Larry Panella's flute, and the catchy "Trouble With Larry" is aided by John Reid's flugelhorn and Billy Bargetzi's trombone. A version of "Everyday I Have The Blues" is croaked by saxophonist Humphrey Davis, Jr., who takes a turn on vocals.
Perhaps the best moments here come during the vocal contributions by Chris Cortez. On "My Way Is Better," "Bad Attitude," the title tune, and especially "Rhythm Method Blues," Cortez resembles a latter day version of prime-time Mose Allison as a lyricist and makes a thorny subject like birth control into far more than a one-stanza joke. How about a singer/songwriter who can rhyme "curtain" with "Haliburton"? Here is another example:
...You thrust, I parry, my wife objected The waiter spilled the wine as he genuflected...
Track Listing: My Way Is Better, Everyday I Have The Blues, Georgia On My Mind, Bad Attitude, Sweet Georgia Brown, Honeysuckle Rose, Manha de Carnival, Mum is the Word, Trouble With Larry, Rhythm Method Blues, Lazy River, Avalon.
Personnel: Chris Cortez, guitar/vocals; Jeff Mills, drums; Sam Bruton,piano; John Wooten, percussion; Edwin Livingston or James Singleton,bass; Larry Panella,alto sax, flute; Humphrey Davis,Jr, tenor sax, vocal(on Everyday I Have the Blues and Mum is the Word); John Brinson, organ(on Mum is the Word); John Reid, flugelhorn (on Trouble with Larry); Bill Bargetzi,trombone (on Trouble with Larry).
Jazz is a continuing revelation. The best show I ever attended was the
Roots Picnic at Penn's Landing in Philadelphia, or was it Robert
Glasper's Experiment at Lincoln Center, or was it Chick Corea with
Brian Blade at Oberlin College? Most of all I enjoy playing guitar and
composing beats with my Brooklyn-based group Space Captain.