This album has a rather presumptuous title, but then the completed effort has produced some pretty good results. Although the three guitarists have known each other for a long time, the only common bond is their New England heritage. Jay Geils founded the J. Geils Band, one of the most popular rock bands of the late 1970s and early 1980s, based out of Boston. Geils reports that he was a jazzer as a youth and was musically distracted by the opportunity to lead a rock band. Duke Robillard, from Rhode Island, founded the long running Roomful of Blues Group in '67, has recorded extensively in a blues, jump blues and even postwar swing era combo, and was awarded a W.C. Handy "Best Guitarist" Award four times. Gerry Beaudoin is regarded as one of New England's most respected guitarists and educators. He spent years working with blues and jazz combos, including those led by Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson, more recently recording and appearing with the guitarist/mandolinist David Grisman.
There really isn't too much on this album not to like, although some vocals come pretty close. The twelve tunes are a combination of standards and three tasty Beaudoin originals. The two Benny Goodman-associated tracks, "Bennies Bugle" and "Seven Come Eleven," suggest an homage to Charlie Christian's role as a pioneer of jazz guitar in the modern era, and in general the music is a retro appreciation of the small combo postwar swing groups in which the guitar played a major part.
Although the three guitarists come from different musical directions, they are all playing on the same wavelength here. It is reasonably difficult to make the solo distinctions amongst the trio but generally Geils plays with a more metallic sound than the others. The difference between his solos and those of Robillard or Beaudoin is manifested in the latter's full ringing notes, with far more plucked tone than Geils. On the Vinson "Backdoor Blues," Geils makes a strong blues statement, compared to the equally effective Beaudoin solo in the style of Herb Ellis.
Not to quibble over minor points, the album is a pleasure to absorb and appreciate. The players are all enjoying themselves and the fine performances just keep coming one after another. A few vocals are included, and although this offers some variety in programming, they are not necessary. Robillard tackles "Never Say Never Again Again" in a barroom baritone and is a bit more effective on "Backdoor Blues," done in the style of "Cleanhead" Vinson. Beaudoin makes a rare vocal appearance on "Ain't Nobody's Business" with the vocal choruses separating the guitar solos.
As an extra added dessert, the final track is a bonus CD-Rom lengthy video performance of "Swing With Dr.Jake," offering a new dimension to the package.
Track Listing: Bennies Bugle, Never Say Never Again Again, Swing with Dr.Jake, Ain't Nobody's Business, Lady B.Good, Azzure Mineur, Just Among Friends, Perdido, Backdoor Blues, Seven Come Eleven, Glide On, Swing With Dr.Jake (video)
Personnel: Jay Geils, electric guitar; Duke Robillard, electric guitar, acoustic rhythm guitar, vocals; Gerry Beaudoin, 6-string electric and 7-string electric guitar, vocal; John Turner,bass; Gordon Grottenthaler,drums.
Jazz and the blues--because together this musical brother and sister speak from our nation's days of the current cultural affairs and the authenticity and truth of a place where the rhythms held the pulse and the drums the heartbeat, representing every step closer the meat on the bone
Jazz and the blues--because together this musical brother and sister speak from our nation's days of the current cultural affairs and the authenticity and truth of a place where the rhythms held the pulse and the drums the heartbeat, representing every step closer the meat on the bone. Feet in the dirt, or barefoot on a stage with sequins--it's soul beats in my chest.
I was first exposed to jazz while others listened to surf music in the '50s and '60s, it was Monk, Miles, Satchmo and Ella, Rosemary Clooney and Julie London followed. Margaret Whiting, Les McCann, Willie Bobo, Andy Simpkins, Snooky Young, Bill Basie and Helen Humes. The first time I heard Topsy, Take 2, I about passed out at the age of ten.
I've hung with Les McCann who more than 30 years after our first meeting became my duet partner on my CD, Don't Go To Strangers. Karen Hernandez from the start, Jack Le Compte on drums, Lou Shoch on bass, Steve Rawlins as my arranger and pianist, Grant Geissman - guitar genius, Nolan Shaheed, Richard Simon, and more. The big boys. My Red Hot Papas. The best show I ever attended was...
I met Helen Humes first back in 1981 and helped turn one Playboy Jazz Festival night into her tribute, bring the Basie Band to stage, her joy boys. Before she took the stage for the last time to sing, If I could Be With You One Hour Tonight thousands of copies of the newspaper I wrote for carried her story. It was kismet, her being held by Joe Williams backstage. Soon in my life were the great Linda Hopkins who told me I sang the song she wrote better than her, which floored me of course, the energizing Barbara Morrison and the stellar Marilyn Maye who guided me professionally.
My advice to new listeners... let your backbone slip and feel your body stripping back the barriers that prevent us from being one with the music.
Remember none of us are strangers, we just haven't met yet.