110

Chuck Leavell: What In That Bag?

Ed Kopp By

Sign in to view read count
Chuck Leavell: What In That Bag? When the Rolling Stones decide to take their act on the road every other year or so, they usually turn to Chuck Leavell for support on piano. Leavell is an incredibly versatile keyboardist, capable of playing rock, blues, R&B, jazz, fusion—you name it. The Georgia-based piano whiz tackles all of those styles and more on What's In That Bag, the most eclectic Christmas release of the season.

This CD started out as a gift to Leavell's friends and family members, but a Capricorn executive was so smitten that he advised Leavell to add a few more tunes and release the collection publicly.

Former leader of the superb jazz-rock group Sea Level, Chuck Leavell is best known for his work with the Stones, the Allman Brothers, Eric Clapton, Aretha Franklin and dozens of well-known rock groups. Hard to believe, but this Christmas collection is the veteran artist's solo debut.

Three of the first four tracks feature Leavell on vocals, and truth be told, he's a much better pianist than singer. Fortunately the R&B tunes "It's Just Not Christmas," "Merry Christmas, Baby," and "Please Come Home For Christmas" are so well done, you hardly notice Leavell's vocal limitations. The best vehicle for Leavell's voice is "Even Santa Get The Blues," a raucous and hilarious tune written by guitarist Scott Boyer. This one deserves to become a holiday blues classic. The vocal tracks here feature a horde of guest musicians, including Bobby Keys (sax), David Hungate (bass) and Bill Stewart (drums).

Jazz and blues fans will be most enamored with the instrumental cuts, which are far sparer than the vocal tracks. "Joy Boogie" is an ingenious arrangement of "Joy To The World," while "O Christmas Tree" starts out with Leavell's bluesy piano, then segues into a jazz-fusion ensemble piece reminiscent of the Yellowjackets. Leavell also delivers refreshing takes on "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen," "We Three Kings," "Greensleeves," and "O Holy Night." His ornate blues-based piano arrangements remind me of Henry Butler's more accessible creations.

If you don’t mind Christmas music that combines blues, rock, and jazz, Chuck Leavell's What's In That Bag belongs in your bag.

| Record Label: Capricorn Records | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


Shop

More Articles

Read Acceptance CD/LP/Track Review Acceptance
by Tyran Grillo
Published: February 26, 2017
Read The Wild CD/LP/Track Review The Wild
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 26, 2017
Read This Is Nate Najar CD/LP/Track Review This Is Nate Najar
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 26, 2017
Read Joy Comes Back CD/LP/Track Review Joy Comes Back
by James Nadal
Published: February 26, 2017
Read Apocalypse CD/LP/Track Review Apocalypse
by Julian Derry
Published: February 26, 2017
Read The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door CD/LP/Track Review The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 25, 2017
Read "Faith" CD/LP/Track Review Faith
by Chris M. Slawecki
Published: May 9, 2016
Read "Left" CD/LP/Track Review Left
by John Sharpe
Published: November 22, 2016
Read "Which Craft?" CD/LP/Track Review Which Craft?
by Ian Patterson
Published: December 28, 2016
Read "Strange But Not Entirely Unattractive" CD/LP/Track Review Strange But Not Entirely Unattractive
by Dave Wayne
Published: August 21, 2016
Read "Live In Sant'Anna Arresi, 2004" CD/LP/Track Review Live In Sant'Anna Arresi, 2004
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: December 7, 2016
Read "Clockwork" CD/LP/Track Review Clockwork
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: July 13, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: Jazz Near You | GET IT  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!