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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 Thorbjørn Risager. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Thorbjørn Risager. Show all posts

Friday, March 20, 2020

Ruf Records artist: Thorbjorn Risager & The Black Tornado - Come On In - New Release Review

I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release, Come On In, from Thorbjorn Risager & The Black Tornado and I really like it. Opening with title track, Come On In, Thorbjorn blends many musical styles and comes up with a tasty blend with a great interweave of guitar (Risager and Joachim Svensmark), keys (Emil Balsgaard), sax (Casper Wagner and Hans Nybo), trumpet and trombone (Peter W Kehl), bass (Soren Bojgaard) and drums (Martin Seidelin). Very cool. Breezy, Nobody But The Moon, has an easy, radio touch and a solid melody. I really like Risager's voice, with a strong, deep timbre reminiscent of Richie Havens. Sin City, with it's stomp rhythm has a real nice slide guitar accent over the basic guitar rhythm and excellent vocals by Risager. Always with well crafted instrumentation, Risager's music is terrific. Breaking into a wide open shuffle, Over The Hill is a great blues track. Risager really steps up vocally with horns blazing behind him and responding guitar riffs as punctuation. A honking sax solo by Wagner sets up nicely and the band plays full tilt closing it out. The richness of Risager's vocals are really showcased on On And On, a well played ballad with suspenseful guitar and keys carrying the accompaniment. Excellent! Wrapping the release is acoustic blues, I'll Be Gone with Risager singing over a light acoustic finger picked blues vamp. Adding in some real nice acoustic slide, this is a solid closer. 

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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Ruf Records artist: Thorbjørn Risager & The Black Tornado - Too Many Roads - New Release Review

I just received the newest release, Too Many Roads, from Thorbjørn Risager & The Black Tornado and it's classic blues rock. Opening with If You Wanna Leave, a driving shuffle track with Risager and Peter Skjerning on guitar, and backing horn work from Kasper Wagner (sax), Hans Nybo (sax) and Peter W Kehl (trumpet). Title track, Too Many Roads takes a more traditional route with Risager on dobro and slide contrasting against his firm but rugged vocals. Lea Thorlann and Pia Trojgaard add warm backing vocals giving it a southern country blues feel. Acoustic ballad, China Gate has a real rural feel accompanied only but acoustic guitar, solitary electric guitar and keys. Very nice. Paradise is an uptempo foot stomper with an almost spiritual feel. This nicely composed blues track backed by Emil Balsgaard on keys, Martin Seidelin on drums and percussion and again nice horn work makes for a very cool track. Drowning is a really effective use of instrumentation to showcase Risager's voice. Isolated but well blended into this sensitive track with key bass work from Soren Bojgaard and artistic inclusion of guitar riffs, horn work and keyboard make this quite and interesting track. Backseat Driver is a quiet rocker waiting to erupt. Balsgaard breaks through the myst on keys and is followed shortly thereafter by Kehl. Solid vocals by Risager overall give this track a lot of interest. Through The Tears has a flavorful R&B sound showing not only Risager's versatility as a soulful singer (which he does really well) but also the adaptability of the band to carry off a track so well. Very nice. High Rolling is a pure blues rocker with a stiff back beat but what grabs me by the short hairs is the great grinding guitar tones on this track. A stinging guitar breakout on this track accented by horn work pushes Risager into yet another vocal style and well done. Red Hot and Blue efficiently blends R&B, pop, ska and rock for a unique feel. Horn work on this track is particularly effective and with the addition of stylized percussion, the track seems to dance on it's own. Rich Man has a low slung delta swing feel with super vocal work from Risager and particularly articulate piano work from Balsgaard. The horn section steps up for a cool break out giving the track a New Orleans flavor. Wrapping the release is a piano boogie Play On, with Risager and pianist Balsgaard leading the way. A fast Rock and Roll pace (a la Jerry Lee Lewis or Little Richard) gives Balsgaard a real wide opening to really hammer out a cool boogie. This release has it's own sound and Risager has a unique and very solid voice. This is a tight band and a cool release.

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Monday, January 30, 2012

Baby Please Don't Go - Thorbjørn Risager


In the blues world, a big voice is often accompanied by a big ego (or at least a medium sized one…)
But the Danish singer Thorbjørn Risager, praised for his rough and strong voice by an unanimous choir of critics from a growing number of countries – 15 the last time we counted them - is a soft-spoken gentleman off stage. He is the leader of his seven-piece band mainly for practical reasons – to bring any little issue into a group discussion can be quite time-consuming. He is also composing most of the band’s music, and during the performance he is the obvious center of attention, even if the band has a charming way of passing round the task of introducing the songs between them, so that each musician gets his word in.

And this is a real smooth organization, who has divided all practical tasks such as web master, CD sales on gigs etc beween themselves. Which makes life easier in the midst of their heavy touring schedule. Since the start, they have played in 15 countreis, and only from Feb – Aug 2010 they have concerts booked in 11 European countries.

But the 38-year-old Dane had other plans for his life. He studied to be a school teacher, and worked in this profession for some years, before he decided to let the music take over. He studied at the Rhythmic Conservatory in Copenhagen, a quite unique education where many of the teachers are jazz- or rockmusicians, and where the emphasis is on Rhythmic music of all genres.
In 2003 he started his band, selected musicians he liked both musically and personally, and the fact that up until today only one of them left and was replaced, at an early stage of the band’s career, proves that the choice was excellent.

But of course Thorbjørn’s musical interest started long before this. He played the saxophone from the age of 12, then guitar – but the singing was more of a coincidence at first. He was exposed to the blues through a neighbour, a middle-aged gentleman who was friends with his parents, and who started playing blues records to the young Thorbjørn. That’s how his life-long love story with the blues started, with B B King as his biggest hero. Ray Charles is one of his other obvious influences, but today, with almost 40 recorded songs from his own pen, he has definitely defined his own sound and style.

His mixture of genres is something that is sometimes mentioned by critics, who are looking for something of more homogeneity. But this is Thorbjørn’s deliberate choice. To hear a band that plays one shuffle after another, or only jump blues through an entire CD or concert, might please some critics but there’s definitely a risk that the audience will get bored.

And this is why Thorbjørn and his band have created their specific sound by other means, especially his characteristic raunchy voice and the band’s typical sound, with its horns, solo performances and rolling, almost big-band-like grooves. So he weaves threads of soul, gospel, rock, R&B and funk into his music, to create a variety and keep the audience interested, something that the band succeeds with on each single gig.
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