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I started a quest to find terrific blues music and incredible musicianship when I was just a little kid. I also have a tremendous appreciation of fine musical instruments and equipment. One of my greatest joys all of my life was sharing my finds with my friends. I'm now publishing my journey. I hope that you come along!


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Showing posts with label The Montreux Years. Show all posts
Showing posts with label The Montreux Years. Show all posts

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Etta James - The Montreux Years - New release review

 I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release, The Montreux Years, from Etta James and it's dynamite. Opening with Breakin' Up Somebody's Home, Etta James hits like a truck on lead vocal, supported by Herman Roscoe Ernest III on drums, Ronnie Buttacavoli on trumpet, Bobby Murray on guitar, Josh Sklair on guitar, Bobby Vega on bass, Kraig Kilby on trombone, Richard Howell on sax, David Matthew on keyboards, Donto James on percussion and Claude Nobs on harmonica. Great opener. Emotionally charged, A Lover Is Forever, is a quiet contrast to the opener with James wooing the mic over the electro acoustic guitar work of Murray and Sklair. Very nice. Rockin, Tell Mama, has great drive, with hot vocal by James, backed by Klaus Doldinger on sax, Lew Soloff on trumpet, Rick Wakeman on keys, David Fathead Newman on sax, Brian Ray on guitar, Richard Tee on keys, Steve Ferrone on drums and David Lowrey on bass. R&B track, Something's Got A Hold On Me gets an uptempo, gospel like feel with backing by Ernst III, Buttacavoli, Murray. Jim Pugh on keys, Sklair on guitar, Vega on bass, Kirby on trombone, Donoto foster on percussion, Howell and Sametto Dennis on vocal. Excellent! Slinky, high stepper, Come To Mama is really great with a strong under pinning by Vega and Ernest III, a scorching guitar solo by Murray and great horn work by Buttacavoli, Kilby and Howell. A string of ballads including At Last, Trust In Me and Sunday Kind of Love is really nice, with james showcasing the jazz styling that made her famous. Very nice. Rolling the blues out big and strong, I Sing The Blues For You is wide open with a full jam by Murray, Sklair, Matthews and Richard Cousins and solid horn backing by Buttacavoli and Kilby. Closing the forst cd is Baby What You Want Me to Do with Brian Ray with a solid guitar solo , Cash McCall on guitar, Tony Cook on drums, Gene Dinwitty with a potent sax solo, fred Beckmeier on bass, Bobby Martin on keys, Keith Johnson on trumpet and Claude Nobs on harmonica. 

Disc 2 is all recorded in July of '75. Opening with a funky, Respect Yourself, James' vocals are gritty and tight, backed by Brian Ray on guitar, Frank Able on keys, Poindexter on sax, Klaus Doldinger on tenor sax, Johnson on tuba and bass trombone and John Paul Jones on bass. Drown In My Own Tears is an excellent soul track in the lines of Aretha '69 or her work at Muscle Shoals. Excellent! An excellent remake of her original track, I'd Rather Go Blind, is included her and she really works hard on that 9+ minute presentation. Very nice. Slow blues, Baby What You Want Me To Do, gives james a great opportunity to stretch thsi famous blues track to new heights. With her powerful vocals and the guitar work of Ray shining, backed by Poindexter, Doldinger, and Johnson, this is really cool. Wrapping the set is TBone Walker's Stormy Mondy with excellent guitar work by Ray and Albe's delicate key strokes setting the pace. The warm sax work of Poindexter prepares the way and james holds nothing back with a stellar vocal performance that pushes the band even further. Excellent closer for an excellent pair of discs.


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Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Nina Simone - The Montreux Years - New Release Review

 


I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release, The Montreux Years, from Nina Simone and it's really a great representation of her live performances. This compilation covers all of her 5 Montreux performances. Disc one a composite of cuts from various years and disc two her 1968 performance in full. Opening with a demonstration of her classical training on piano on Someone to Watch Over Me, Simone really gets the keys rolling showig real keyboard prowess and power. On shuffle track, I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free, Simone lays down a simple piano line and sings with her casual but succinct style with heavy piano accent. Very cool. See-Line Woman with backing vocal has it's southern blues roots and chant like nature. Very much like primitive field hollars, it relates to prostitutes lining up to perform "favors" as the sailors come to shore. Don't Smoke In Bed is a fairly classic Simone track with it's dramatic classical/jazz piano presentation and Simone's soulful voice. African Mailman is a vibrant instrumental starting with piano and light snare, slowly building with tom toms, cowbell, and cymbal. Very cool. Liberian Calypso has a strong island rhythm with piano and percussion under Simone's strong vocal and crowd audience vocal participation. I really like this release but one of my favorites is Ne Me Quitte Pas, a Belgian ballad sung in french. With only her piano and vocal, this is a terrific track. Rocking the close on cd one is My Baby Just Cares For Me with Simone really rolling the keys. Her ability to get in the slot and drag you there with her is remarkable and this track is a cool closer for the disc. 

Disc 2 opens with Simone classic, Go To Hell with it's bulldozer like approach and terrific followthrough. Simone is on top of her game here and the vocals are strong and clear. On her own super hit, Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood, really popularized by the Animals, Simone maintains her easy, laid back approach. With Buck Clarke on drums, Gene Taylor on double bass, Sam Waymon on organ and perecussion and hot guitar by Henry Taylor, this is strong. Funky, Backlash Blues has a real groove, created by Clarke and Taylor, reinforced by Simone on vocal and piano. Great changeup in the middle of the set. The set is wrapped with two encores, Gin House Blues and I Wish I How It Would Feel To be Free. Gin House Blues gets a firey, R&B,  Ray Charles like make over that really gets the stage romping like a revival tent with extended solos by Clarke, Waymon, and Taylor. Very nice. Winding it down on I Wish, Simone has the audience in her hands. This is the perfect closer having laid it all out there and giving the crowd a chance to catch their breath with a gospel like sway.

This is an excellent release and one long coming.


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