Make a difference: Support jazz online

Support All About Jazz Your friends at All About Jazz are looking for readers to help back our website upgrade project. Of critical importance, this project will result in a vastly improved design across all devices and will make future All About Jazz projects much easier to implement. Click here to learn more about this project including donation rewards.

77

Marty Grebb: Smooth Sailin'

Ed Kopp By

Sign in to view read count
It's usually a mistake when one artist tries to play multiple instruments on a solo album. But few blues cats are as versatile as Marty Grebb, and everything he touches turns to gold on Smooth Sailin'.

Grebb is a huge talent who has collaborated with dozens of big-name artists, beginning with the Buckinghams and lately with Leon Russell, Bonnie Raitt and Taj Mahal. Grebb blows tenor and baritone saxophones, tickles the ivories, wields a mighty guitar, and sings with soul-drenched passion on these 13 fetching originals.

Best known for his sax work, Grebb is hardly a one-man band on this solo debut. Raitt and Mahal head a lengthy list of well-known guest musicians.

Sailin' is a slick but sophisticated recording that, strictly speaking, isn't solely a blues release. About half the tracks offer straight-ahead blues, while the rest include R&B tracks and some blues-influenced pop songs. Highlights include a glossy Stevie Winwood-style R&B number ("High Wire Walker"), a spare Band-like ballad ("Mississippi Muddy Water"), a roadhouse soul track ("Hen House," with Mahal), a New Orleans-style funk piece ("Bad Blood"), and a Randy Newman-like orchestral ballad ("Love and Shelter"). My favorites are two sublime blues duets with a couple of great female singers: Bonnie Raitt on "Soul Mate," and Teresa James on the "Heaven and Earth." Raitt plays her trademark slide guitar on the former, while the latter packs as much emotional wallop as any Marvin Gaye duet with Tammi Terrell.

While the lyrics here are fairly conventional, the biggest surprise is Grebb's smooth singing. On some tracks he sounds like Eric Clapton, on others he emulates Rick Danko of The Band. Factor in support from the likes of Steve Cropper, Jim Keltner, Amos Garrett, three members of Little Feat, Rick Braun, Ivan Neville, Rick Vito and many others, and this is a satisfying release that fully deserves a big crossover audience.

Title: Smooth Sailin' | Year Released: 1999 | Record Label: Enja Records

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Lucas CD/LP/Track Review Lucas
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: January 22, 2018
Read In Paris: The Definitive ORTF Recording CD/LP/Track Review In Paris: The Definitive ORTF Recording
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: January 22, 2018
Read D'Agala CD/LP/Track Review D'Agala
by Mark Corroto
Published: January 22, 2018
Read Not Bound CD/LP/Track Review Not Bound
by Don Phipps
Published: January 22, 2018
Read Not Nearly Enough To Buy A House CD/LP/Track Review Not Nearly Enough To Buy A House
by Mark Sullivan
Published: January 21, 2018
Read Journey to a New World CD/LP/Track Review Journey to a New World
by Troy Dostert
Published: January 21, 2018
Read "Rising Tide" CD/LP/Track Review Rising Tide
by Geannine Reid
Published: May 16, 2017
Read "Developing Story" CD/LP/Track Review Developing Story
by Edward Blanco
Published: June 26, 2017
Read "In Times Like These" CD/LP/Track Review In Times Like These
by James Nadal
Published: May 13, 2017
Read "3Divas" CD/LP/Track Review 3Divas
by Geannine Reid
Published: June 1, 2017
Read "Komitas:  Seven Songs" CD/LP/Track Review Komitas: Seven Songs
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: January 7, 2018
Read "Prague After Dark" CD/LP/Track Review Prague After Dark
by Jack Bowers
Published: March 16, 2017