Blues

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BY FRANK-JOHN HADLEY

The Mighty Mojo Prophets, Record Store
(Mojo King Music; 55:48 +++½ ) Serving
up their third entertaining album in a row, the
Long Beach, California, band founded nine
years ago by singer Tom Eliff and guitarist
Mitch Dow exemplifies the sensibility of quality blues formed from elements of the West
Coast, Chicago and Texas styles. On a program of original songs, Eliff explores lyrics that
survey relationships or express the pleasure of
having hung out at a certain vinyl emporium.
Dow and harmonica player Tom Richmond
are keen to construction, space and dynamics
in their solos and interplay.

MATTHEW SMITH

Bring It on Home

The Stan Kenton
Legacy Orchestra
Storming Through The South
SUMMIT 678

Ordering info: mojoking.com

Andre Williams, I Wanna Go Back
To Detroit City (Bloodshot 234; 34:32
+++½ ) The 79-year-old singer known as
“Mr. Rhythm” boasts an almost unbelievable background (he was a gutsy r&b singer in the 1950s, and once worked as a producer at Motown). His fourth album for the
Bloodshot label finds him once again deploying his talent for fractious suspense: He
gives the finger to award show snobs as he
spits out “Hall Of Fame,” and on “Mississippi
Sue,” he laments a gal he lost to the electric
chair. Funk and blues riffs are supplied by,
among others, noted guitarists Dennis Coffey and Matthew Smith.
Ordering info: bloodshotrecords.com

Little Boys Blue, Tennissippi (Jaxon/
VizzTone 16; 56:16 +++½ ) This Jackson,
Tennessee-based band, co-founded by JD
Taylor two decades ago, is of strong, stirring
mettle, combining blues, soul and Southern
rock. Taylor’s singing voice is firm and even,
at no disadvantage for its lack of variety on
original fare like the workout “Pack It Up
Baby” and the ballad “Smoke Rings.” Taylor
knows his way around the harmonica, and
guitarist Alex Taylor plays with consistent
warmth and concision.
Ordering info: vizztone.com

Aki Kumar, Aki Goes To Bollywood
(Little Village Foundation 1008; 51:30
+++½ ) Aki Kumar, a smart Chicago-style
harmonica player born in Mumbai but long
based in San Jose, dovetails Indian pop
songs from Bollywood with the rhythms
and spirit of the blues. He whets his imagination on hear-it-to-believe-it “Eena Meena
Deeka” and 10 other tunes recorded with
help from friends like guitarist (and sitar
player) Kid Andersen and keyboards expert
Jim Pugh. Most of the time Kumar sings in
Hindi, which adds some vindaloo heat.
Ordering info: littlevillagefoundation.org

Various Artists, The Rough Guide To
Gospel Blues (Rough Trade 1349; 75:35

+++

Andre Williams

++++) This outstanding collection has 25
charismatic recording artists of the 1920s
and ’30s singing about Christian imperatives (with blues guitar accompaniment).
Greats Bessie Smith, Memphis Minnie,
Charley Patton and Blind Willie Johnson exhibit the keys to the heavenly kingdom, and
a small flock of now-forgotten supplicants,
including intense-voiced Blind Gussie Nesbit and hauntingly stark Blind Mamie Forehand, offer their profound supplications.
Ordering info: worldmusic.net

The Paul Butterfield Blues Band,
Live 1966 (Real Gone Music 0456; 63:02
++++) The specialness of Paul Butterfield’s integrated Chicago band comes
through despite the less-than-perfect
sound reproduction of these unissued
tapes from a coffeehouse gig in Boston. Solos by Butterfield on harmonica and Mike
Bloomfield on guitar provide the thrill of
knuckle-whitening roller coaster rides. Also
playing for keeps on a dozen songs are guitarist Elvin Bishop, organ player Mark Naftalin, bassist Jerome Arnold and drummer
Billy Davenport.
Ordering info: realgonemusic.com

Louisiana Soul Revival, Louisiana
Soul Revival Featuring Doug Duffey
(Self Release; 36:17 ++½ ) A well-regarded Bayou State songwriter with ties to funkmeister George Clinton, singer-keyboardist
Duffey leads a 10-piece r&b revue that is
competent but largely uninspired. Of nine
tracks, just “Love Into My Life” approaches
transcendence.
DB
Ordering info: cdbaby.com/cd/louisianasoulrevivalfeat

Stan Kenton, who passed away in 1979, made it
well known in his later years that he did not
want there to be a ghost band after his death. In
1991, trumpeter Mike Vax, who considers his
stint with Kenton to be one of the highpoints
of his career, started an alumni orchestra that
avoided being a mere recreation of the band.
The group, which in recent times was renamed
the Stan Kenton Legacy Orchestra (since it
no longer consists exclusively of alumni), has
released six albums to date.
It is immediately apparent while listening to
the music of the orchestra that Vax has succeeded
at drawing inspiration from Kenton’s band while
avoiding emulation. Other than Bill Holman’s
famous arrangement of “Malaguena,” which is
given a stirring rendition, none of the songs are
closely associated with Kenton, although the late
bandleader’s arrangement of “I’m Glad There Is
You” and Willie Maiden’s version of “It Might As
Well Be Spring” were in the band’s book.
Recorded during a busy road trip through
the South (16 cities in 17 days), these live performances give many of the players opportunities to solo. Trombonist Scott Whitfield and his
wife, vocalist Ginger Berglund, are standouts,
as are bassist Jennifer Leitham, baritone saxophonist Phil Hilger and Vax himself.
Though the sound quality could be better, fans
of high-powered big bands will enjoy this program.
—Scott Yanow
Storming Through The South: Beat 70; Roy’s Blues Revisited;
Summer Violets; I’m Glad There Is You; Lefty Leaps In; Virna; Come
Out Swingin’; Shell Game; It Might As Well Be Spring; You Turned
The Tables On Me; Passages; Slow Boat To China; I’m Getting
Sentimental Over You; Malaguena. (75:11)
Personnel: Mike Vax, Dennis Noday, Brian O’Flaherty, Steve
Huffsteter; Jonathan Dane, trumpet, flugelhorn; Scott Whitfield,
trombone, vocals; Dale DeVoe, Dave Klein, trombone; Kenny Shroyer, Rich Bullock, bass trombone; Kim Richmond, alto saxophone,
flute, piccolo; Phil Hilger, alto saxophone, baritone saxophone, flute;
Rick Condit, Pete Gallo, tenor saxophone, flute; Joel Kaye, bass
saxophone, baritone saxophone, flute; Charlie Ferguson, piano;
Jennifer Leitham, bass; Gary Hobbs, Claude Askew, drums; Ginger
Berglund, vocals.
Ordering info: summitrecords.com

66 DOWNBEAT SEPTEMBER 2016