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Monday, October 6, 2014

Greaseland Records artist: Aki Kumar - Don't Hold Back - New Release Review

I just received the newest release from Aki Kumar and it's a solid dose of Chicago blues. Opening with Snooky Pryor's Judgement Day, a smooth slinging number, has Kumar on vocal and harp and Little Jonny with crisp guitar work. On Hank Ballard's Hoochie Coochie Coo, Kumar really gets the band in the groove with his focused vocals. Frankie Ramos adds a real nice sax soloing to the mix and Bob Welsh lays down some real nice piano lead. I particularly like Rusty Zinn's guitar soloing on this track. On title track, Don't Hold Back, Ramos again adds the heat on sax and June Core on drums as well as Vance Ehlers on bass really hold the line. On James Moore's Buzzin', Core sets a snappy snare rhythm and Kumar sets up a nice harp melody. Johnny Cat Soubrand and Little Jonny lay down some nice guitar on this track as well. On original track, Let Me Get Closer, Kumar really sets a nice table both vocally and on harp. On Jimmy Reed's She Don't Want Me No More, Welsh rolls a super nice piano solo and Kumar slams down hard with a nice ripper of his own. One of my favorite tracks on the release, Drifting Blues, has an almost John lee Hooker like drive to it. With essentially no bridge, this track is a full blown train rolling down the tracks and Kumar is blowin the harp. Very nice! Little Walter track Blue Baby has a real nice simple pace backed by Welsh on piano and with nicely placed harp riffs throughout. A real nice harp solo carries the melody on this track making it another of the best tracks on the release. On Willie Dixon's I'll Get You Too the band gets a bit of the 60's rock feel with a distinct drum pattern and sax work from Ramos. Kumar on vocal and Kid Anderson on organ nicely embellish the authentic feel of this track. LC Fraiser track, Wish Me Well, has a real nice groove complimented by Welsh and Soubrand and Little Jonny and Kumar does his best harp work on this track. Classic blues track Freight Train finds Litte Jonny on lead vocal and Kumar laying down a great train riff along side of simple acoustic country slide. Very nice! An extremely hot jump track, The Mumbai Express, is up next and a perfect showcase for Kumar to show what he's got. This is a great shuffle track with Soubrand laying in some really nice guitar riffs. Excellent! Wrapping the release is Ajeeb Daastaan Hai Yeh (A Strange Story), which has a definite eastern twist. With it's 50's styling, it shows a world interpretation on our native blues. Unconventional guitar patterns and vocal styling complimented by traditional blues sax riffs make for an interesting conclusion to an otherwise straightforward Chicago blues release.

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