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Oz Noy: Twisted Blues Volume 2

Ian Patterson By

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Two and a half years on from Twisted Blues Volume 1, guitar ace Oz Noy returns with another incendiary serving of jazz-inflected blues. In the intervening period Noy has hardly been idle, releasing a couple of instructional DVDs and touring regularly but his return to the recording studio with his blues bag is certainly welcome. As on Twisted Blues Vol 1, Noy surrounds himself with numerous collaborators—seventeen in total—and no two songs feature the same line-up. Though recorded two years after Volume 1, many of the same musicians are on call here, bringing a large chunk of stylistic continuity to the two CDs.

If the CDs' titles are a nod to Wes Montgomery, Noy's blues is as much inspired by Albert King, BB King and Stevie Ray Vaughan. "You Dig," however—featuring Greg Leisz on lap steel guitar—veers between John Scofield-inspired jazz-funk and an infectious burst of ZZ Top-flavored riffing. Scofield's shadow looms large elsewhere, notably on "Rhumba Tumba," with a Rhodes cameo by Chick Corea, on the smoldering "EJ's Blues," with a lovely intervention from Eric Johnson and on the Eddie Harris tune "Freedom Jazz Dance," where Noy, John Medeski, Keith Carlock and Will Lee get their funk groove on.

The incomparable Gregoire Maret's free-wheeling solo steals the thunder on Stevie Wonder's "Come Let Me Make Your Love Come Down," with Noy reprising Stevie Ray Vaughan's role with some heavy Texas blues riffing. Noy's satisfyingly gutsy instrumental version hints at where Wonder might have taken the song were it not for the smooth, over-production that was de rigueur in the 1980s. Vaughan's DNA—by way of BB King—also colors the up-tempo "Blue Ball Blues," with Warren Haynes and Roscoe Beck keep the rhythm boiling alongside Reece Wynans' insistent ska motif.

The slow waltzing "Come Dance With Me"—co-written with Giulio Carmassi—features the sort of emotionally-charged, shimmering guitar playing that was a feature of Noy's collaborative project with Jay Anderson, Adam Nussbaum and Seamus Blake on the outstanding As You Like (Jazz Eyes, 2011). "Get Down" pitches Carlock, Lee, Medeski and Noy together in a straight-ahead funk workout redolent of The Meters, with Noy's patiently constructed solo tender and zesty in turn. The rockier "Just Groove Me" does just that, with Dave Weckl, Lee and Wynans plying a deep groove as Noy lets loose his fieriest fretwork. "Slow Grease" is a delightfully unhurried blues featuring the jangling R&B lines of New Orleans piano legend Allen Toussaint and another smoking Noy solo for good measure.

The blues is as much an inherent party of Noy's make-up as jazz. The playing here is absolutely first rate throughout with some stellar moments, though at times the music is a little too generic and derivative to truly stand out. You feel, however, that Noy has at least Volume 3 in him, and perhaps a more twisted, modern blues at that.

Track Listing: You Dig; Rhumba Tumba; Come Let Me Make Your Love Come Down; Come Dance With Me; EJ’s Blues; Get Down; Blue Ball Blues; Just Groove Me; Slow Grease; Freedom Jazz Dance.

Personnel: Oz Noy: Tele guitar (1-2, 6, 10); National Steel guitar (1); Strat guitar (3-5, 7-9); Keith Carlock: drums (1, 4, 6, 10); Will Lee: bass (1-2, 4, 6, 8, 10), tambourine (1), harmonica & voice (1); John Medeski: organ (1, 4-6, 10), Rhodes (1, 4); Greg Leisz: Lap Steel (1); Dave Weckl: drums (2, 8); Jerry Z.: organ (2); Chick Corea: Rhodes (2); Chris Layton: drums (3, 7, 9); Roscoe Beck: bass (3, 5, 7, 9); Reese Wynans: organ (3, 5, 7-9); Gregoire Maret: harmonica (3); Lew Soloff: trumpet (4-5); Giulio Carmassi: flute (4-5); Anton Fig: drums (5); Eric Johnson: guitar (5); Warren Haynes: guitar (7); Allen Toussaint: piano (9)..

Title: Twisted Blues Volume 2 | Year Released: 2014 | Record Label: Abstract Logix


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