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rhythm’n’blues

Uptown Rhythm Kings (the)

in Reviews

Uptown Rhythm Kings (the) – Oooh-Wow!

Ripsaw Records 222 [1990]
Oooh-Wow / Something’s Going On In My Room / No Use Knockin’ / Tell Me Pretty Baby / Let Me Give You Lovin’ / House Rocker / Open Up The Back Door / Honey Baby / ‘Til I Say Well Done / Sad As A Man Can Be / I’m Gonna Have To Send You Back / Sittin’ On It All The Time

The Uptown Rhythm Kings was an 11-piece jump blues combo from Maryland. On this recording, they had a mighty horn section made of two tenor saxophones, two baritones, one trombone, and one trumpet. They recorded this album and released it on Ripsaw the following year. It kicks off with a cover of Roy Montrell, the perfect vehicle for Eric “Shoutin” Sheridan as is Open Up The Backdoor, their cover of the Midnighters. The piano player takes the lead vocals on a couple of numbers, which brings a New-Orleans feel, in the style of Fats Domino, Professor Longhair, and Lloyd Price.
One of the secret weapons of the band is their guitar player, Rusty Bogart, as demonstrates their cover of House Rocker, a BB Kings’ instrumental. He literally steals the show on Let Me Give You Lovin’ plays some tasty blues-jazz licks on ‘Til I Say Well Done and proves that he’s also at ease when it comes to playing in a Johnny Guitar Watson/T-Bone Walker vein (the fast-paced Sad As A Man Can Be.) There are even hints of Mambo here and there (I’m Gonna Have To Send You Back).

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

Oo-Bop-Sh’bam

in Reviews

Oo-Bop-Sh’bam – Oo-Bop-Sh’bam

Oo Bop Records – oobopr 001

The Oo-Bop-Sh’out – Well Alright – Rock Rock Rock – Just Love Me Baby – Big Mamou – Be My Guest – Rooming House Boogie – Lillie Mae – Kindey Stew – Let ’Em Roll… For Big Joe – Flip Flop Fly – Wish You Were Mine – Braking Up The House – I Like To Bop

In the ’80s, England had a vast scene of small jazz, blues, jump and jive bands like The Chevalier Brothers, Howlin’ Wilf and the Vee-Jays, King Pleasure, Big Town Playboys, etc.

One of the best of these new bands was Rent Party. They were swinging and jumping like no other, and Jackson Sloan, their singer, had a voice tailor-made for this kind of stuff. After Rent Party, he played in the jazz fields, and he’s now back to his first love with Oo-Bop-Sh’bam, a combo of solid and experimented musicians.

Bass player Dave Lagnado has played for James Hunter, tenor sax player Andy Dummet has shared the stage with Solomon Burke and Otis Grand while the other saxman, Julien Greaves, has played with the Rolling Stones. Not to forget another ex-Rent Party, Alan Savage on drums who played with Hubert Sumlin, Paul Lamb, Joe Jackson and even Freddy Mercury. And as a special guest they have Ray Gelato who wrote the liner notes and blows in his sax on two tunes. You can now see that I didn’t use the word “experimented” lightly. Together they play a solid mix of blues, boogie-woogie and highly enjoyable rhythm & blues. Three songs are from the pen of Savage and Sloan (one together and one each.) The remaining eleven are covers of Smiley Lewis, Tiny Bradshaw, Amos Milburn, Fats Domino, and Big Joe Turner, who is not only covered but has a song dedicated to him (Let ’Em Roll, a nod to Roll ’Em Pete). It’s not a big surprise as Sloan has a deep and powerful voice close to the Boss of Blues. Roscoe Gordon’s Just Love My Baby allows Paul Garner to play great T-Bone Walker licks. Also remarkable is pianist work, in the background, but with a constant and driving presence on “Rooming House Boogie,” or in the foreground with a great demonstration of boogie-woogie on “Breaking Up The House.” For all the dancers, jivers, foot tapers, and lovers of juicy saxes and real blues voices, this one is for you!
Fred “Virgil” Turgis

Sarah Mai

in Reviews

Sarah Mai – I Ain’t Gonna Hush

Sarah Mai

Right Recordings RIGHT347 [2019]
Sentimental Journey – Bop Ting A Ling – Feel Fi Fo Fum – Come On A My House – Mama He Treats Your Daughter Mean – Hound Dog – I Ain’t Gonna Hush – As Long As I’m Moving – This Train – Whipper Snapper – Hello Little Boy

As a reviewer, I try to be as objective as possible. Of course, I also like to read the booklet of an album when I receive it. And, though I didn’t know Miss Mai, when I saw that Pat Reyford was involved in the making of that platter (he plays all instruments and contributes backing vocals too), I had a pretty good feeling. But nothing prepared me for Sarah Mai’s voice. The lady blends the charm of Rosemary Clooney with the power of Ruth Brown. This Rhythm’n’Blues album is excellent from start to finish. It begins smoothly with Sentimental Journey, then slowly drifts gears, takes detours with a touch of jazz here, some doo-wop, and ends at a frantic pace with Lavern Baker’s Whipper Snapper and Ruth Brown’s Hello Little Boy. It leaves the listener breathless, knock-out, but most of all, begging for more. That’s what a good record always does; it leaves you frustrated, and you have no choice but push the repeat button.
One could moan – there’s always someone who complains – that “I Ain’t Gonna Hush” contains only covers. So what? Do you complain when you listen to Billie Holiday that she only sings covers? Of course not, you’re just happy to hear to a great performer who sings classics. The same goes here. And you can’t deny that Sarah Mai is a brilliant songstress who takes those classics (and some lesser-known songs) and turns them into her own songs, with her personality, energy, and a healthy dose of soul.
This kind of album is too rare to be ignored, so jump on it, then jump with it!

Availble at https://www.sarahmai.co.uk/

Fred ‘Virgil’ Turgis

Jackson Sloan

in Albums/Contemporary artists/Reviews/S
Jackson Sloan - the Shack Sessions
Jackson Sloan – the Shack Sessions

Jackson Sloan & the Rhythmtones – The Shack Sessions

Shellac Records {2013}
Don’t Run Away From My Love – Can’t Find A way – My Chance has Gone – Same Old Suit – Across The Border – I Forgot To remember – Kickin’ Up The Dust – Big talk – Small Town Girl – No No Don’t Do It – Why Don’t You Let Me Know – Ghost Train.

I’m always more than pleased to find a Jackson Sloan album in my mailbox. The Shack Sessions makes no exception, far from that, it’s the singer’s strongest effort to date (Rent Party and Oop Bop Sh’ Bam included) and his deep voice has never sounded so good. Coupled with his ability to write originals (all songs are from his pen) and that’s it, another killer.
It takes a few bars of “Don’t Run Away From My Love“, featuring the Metrotones on B-vox (they appear on three more) and hear Pete Cook (tenor) and Alex Bland (Baritone) trading licks to agree with me. If you don’t you must be dead, or at least lost for good music. Next are two more slices of juicy Rhythm’n’Blues. “Same Old Suit”  features Laura B. (who had a records by herself on El Toro, check it out) on duet. It is followed by “Across the Border” a latin tinged tune with a Fats Domino groove with West Weston on harmonica (who played with Sloan in Rent Party). “I Forgot to Remeber” is a fine ballad, but “Kickin’ Of Dust” changes the pace and rocks with the welcome addition of a steel guitar (more like that on the next album please!). “Small Town Girl” and  “Why Don’t You Let Me Know?” see the horn section augmented by Graeme Turner (Drifters, Big Town Playboys and the list goes on…) on alto and tenor and you’re in for some sax madness. With Sloan, you can be sure that Big Joe Turner is never very far and “Ghost Train” the last and best track of the Shack sessions, propelled by Dave Raven’s slap bass proves it with class.

Jackson Sloan – Saturday Clothes

Jackson Sloan

Shellac Records -Shellacrecords001
Jumping On The Kansas Line – Take A Chance On Me Baby – Don’t Make Me Love You Again – I’m No Good Without You – Long As I Have You – Midnight Lover – Saturday Clothes – Saratoga Boogie – ‘Til The River Runs Dry – Love x 2 – Temptation – Lover’s Call.

Rent Party was one of the best British R’n’B/Jive act of the mid 80’s. Their singer, Jackson Sloan later moved on the jazz scene but resurfaced a couple of years ago with Oo-Bop-Sh’Bam, and proved he still had his warm voice. He’s now releasing an album under his own name featuring 12 original numbers. It’s rhythm’n’blues at its best, with a bit of boogie too and even a gospel. He’s backed by a terrific combo made of hot musicians namely Mike Thorne (Big Town Playboys), Richard Studholme (Blue Devils), Pete Pritchard (Flying Saucers, Scotty Moore and the list goes on…), Gunter Kurmayr (Ray Gelato) and Ray Gelato in person who also wrote the arrangements.Do I really need to add something after that to convince you? Well I can say that the sax is juicy when it needs to be, mellow on the slow numbers and it screams and honks like no tomorrow when the tempo fastens. The whole album for me is one of Gelato’s finest performances ever. The guitar is gritty just like it needs to be and the rhythm section sets the perfect groove. And on top of all that, like a cherry on top of a giant cake, you have Jackson’s voice, a true lady’s trap. And when Gelato describes him in the liner notes like a “modern day Joe Turner and Wynonie Harris”, you just need to listen to the first few bars of the first song to fully agree with him.
Now the choice is yours: buy it or buy it!

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

The Starjays

in Albums/Contemporary artists/Reviews/S

The Starjays - Bang! It's the Starjays
The Starjays – Bang! It’s the Starjays

The Starjays – Bang! It’s the Starjays

Rhythm Bomb – RBR5828 {2016}
Who Do You Love The Most? – The Right Girl – Flat Broke – I’ll Wait – Nobody Loves You Like Me – My Wild Girl – Cadillac Of Woman – Keep On Talkin’- One Quick Stop – What’s Gone Wrong? – Turn Down The Lights – Tintarella Di Luna – A Sin Comin’ On – Get Closer

Led by Roy Kay (the Roy Kay trio\Combo, the Margraves) and Angela Tini (Angelatini and the Trebblemakers) and featuring the talents of piano wizard Carl Sonny Leyland, Marshall Scott Warner on drums, Tony Laborie on double bass, Sean Jensen on sax and Mike Geglia on guitar (also from the Roy Kay trio connection), the Starjays are a hot combo that plays rhythm’n’blues and rock’n’roll (and I mean real Rock’n’roll) with, for a song or two, a slight 60’s feel. They reminded me of the Jive Bombers, the excellent and now defunct Austin based band that featured Shaun Young.
Roy Kay and Angela Tini share the vocal duties (solo or in duets) which brings a lot of diversity to this album. As she is probably lesser known than her partner Roy Kay who have quite a few albums under his name, I have to sing here the praise of Miss Tini’s voice who manages to be powerful, subtle and dare I say a bit naughty (Get Closer), all that with a Ruth Brown vibe. Other names come to mind, but it would reduce Tini’s own personnality that is present here from start to finish (understand “she has her own voice and she is no impersonnator”).
All songs but two are originals penned by Kay and Tini. It’s very well produced, recorded, sung (I’ve already said that, but better twice than never) and played, each solist having plenty of room to express himself.
And icing on the cake, it comes in a nicely designed digipack .

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

Nico Duportal and his Rhythm Dudes

in Reviews

Nico Duportal & his Rhythm Dudes - Dealing with my blues
Nico Duportal & his Rhythm Dudes – Dealing with my blues

Nico Duportal and his Rhythm Dudes – Dealing with my blues

Rhythm Bomb Records ‎– RBR5844 [2016]
Don’t You See – I Know The Rules – Now Hush – The One To Blame – I Will Unfriend You – Mess And Chaos – Benzola Ascensor – Sometimes – Brand New Day – Junior’s Mambo – Soul Patch – Long Way To Go – Mess And Chaos (Acoustic Bonus Track)

Nico Duportal,French ace guitar player and singer, is not the kind of guy to rest on his laurels. One year after the excellent Guitar Player (that I hope you all own) he releases a brand-new platter that is even better. Once again, the Rhythm Dudes (Pascal Mucci on drums, Alex Bertein on baritone, Thibault Chopin on upright bass, Sylvain Téjérizo on tenor and Olivier Cantrelle on piano and organ.) are here to provide the perfect background to let the many talents of mister Duportal shine.

While his previous album was almost 100% rhythm’n’blues, “Dealing With My Blues” expands his musical horizons and shows the influence of many other genres, including a heavy dose of Soul with, terrific idea, the use of an organ (and if you like Jimmie Va. There’s someTilt a Whirl band, you’ll be delighted) Mambo too with Junior’s mambo penned by  Tim Lelegems ex-Fried Bourbon and Shakedown Tim and the Rhythm Revue, a band recently produced by Duportal. There’s also a bit of of surf (Soul Patch), a hint of Calypso (the One to Blame) and more modern things like Mess and Chaos (that Don Cavalli co-wrote) that shows that Duportal is not a “revival” guy and that his music is not a piece of museum.

All songs are originals mostly penned by Duportal but bass player Thibault Chopin composed two (and co-wrote another). In addition to Junior’s Mambo Tim Lelegems co-wrote I will Unfriend You (facebook friends beware!) and last but not least French blues legend Benoit Blue Boys penned Benzola Ascensor an instrumental on which he also plays harmonic (by the way Nico will appear on Benoit Blue Boy’s forthcoming album, a tribute to French Rock’n’rollers of the of the fifties like Mac Cak.)

Buy it here or if you order from France here.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

Nico Duportal and his Rhythm Dudes - Guitar Player
Nico Duportal and his Rhythm Dudes – Guitar Player

Nico Duportal and his Rhythm Dudes – Guitar Player

Rhythm Bomb Records  – RBR5800 [2015]
When I’m Gone – Lost In The Game – Polish Woman – Oh Baby – Can’t Afford To Lose Her – She Knows How – Real Good Lovin’ Tonight – Big Mary’s – Guitar Player – Oh Oh – Josh & Slim – Much Later – Polish Woman (bonus track, unreleased version)

If you dig 50’s black rhythm’n’blues, stop what you’re doing right now and run to your local record shop – if it still exists – or go to Rhythm Bomb’s website to buy Nico Duportal’s amazing fourth album. When you listen to it, you’d swear that someone has unearthed a lost recording made for Peacock or Specialty and put it on cd.
The last time I had the same level of enthusiasm for a similar artist was at the turn of the millenium when I listened to Nick Curran’s debut album.
Like Curran, Duportal has the whole package: the voice, a guitar style in which one can hear the influences of Tiny Grimes, T. Bone Walker, Gatemouth Brown and Johnny Guitar Watson and the songs (and he even has the look!). Six out of 12 are originals he wrote or co-wrote and double bass player Thibaut Chopin wrote another one. The cover are well selected coming from the catalog of Jackie Brenston, Titus Turner, Johnny “Guitar” Watson and Eddie Bo.
One word has to be said about the Rhythm Dudes without whom this album wouldn’t be such a success. The rhythm section (Olivier Cantrelle on piano, Pascal Mucci on drums and Chopin on bass) keeps a steady beat whith precision and swing (yes, both!) while the horns (Alex Bertein on baritone saxophone and Arnaud Desprez on tenor) are groovy, juicy and hot.
A must have.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

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