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The album may be titled New Born, but Calvin Newborn, famed Memphis-born guitarist and brother of the late jazz legend Phineas Newborn, has proven on his Yellow Dog Records release that a newborn can indeed have plenty of soul. The music on this album feels at some points like you should be listening while watching from a velvet-seated auditoriumand at other points like you should be swaying your hips and slow-dragging at a juke joint in Mississippi. With a septet of excellent players, Calvin Newborn can be free to journey from jazz to blues and back to jazz again and know that these musicians are more than capable of helping to make the journey enjoyable for the listener.
Six of the eight tracks on this album were written by Newborn, with the exception of the warm and conversant "Newborn Blues, written by brother Phineas, and the Billy Strayhorn classic "Lush Life. Showcasing both his jazz and blues backgrounds on this album was obviously important to Newborn, who drew clear musical lines in the sand on the jazz-tinged "When Kingdom Comes/Sho' Nuff and the blues-rich "After Hours Blues. At some points, the album lacks energy, but Newborn plays so skillfully that one is hard pressed to remember that he is a "seventy-something year old man who was once known as Flying Calvin on the Memphis blues circuit and who, in his youth, befriended Elvis Presley and battled a terrible drug addiction.
Now after more than a decade of sobriety and five decades in the music business, with this release Calvin Newborn has indeed been born anew. And so, ladies and gentlemen, have I.
Track Listing: When Kingdom Comes/Sho' Nuff;
The Streetwalker's Stroll;
After Hours Blues;
Blues and Beyond.
Personnel: Donald Brown- piano;
Charlie Wood- organ;
Herman Green- sax/flute;
Scott Thompson- trumpet;
London Branch- bass;
Renardo Ward- drums;
Ekpe Obioto- talking drums.
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.