steel guitar

Tom Hammel

Tom Hammel – Steelin’ Crazy Rhythm

Self released [2020]
Four Steps West – Out of Odessa – Tenderly – Cherry – Crazy Rhythm – Si Tu Vois Ma Mere – It’s All Your Fault – Mission to Moscow – When Sunny Gets Blue – What Is This Thing Called Love? – Steelin Home – Willow Weep for Me

Tom Hammel, the steel guitarist on Slim Sandy’s latest album, also released a solo album.
He gathered a set of stellar musicians, including Paul Pigat on guitar, Jeremy Holmes on upright bass, James Badger on drums, and icing on the cake, Canada’s sweetheart of Swing, the great Alex Pangman who sings Cindy Walker’s It’s All Your Fault. She already recorded this song for one of her solo albums, but this is a new version, with steel to the fore.
Besides this song, it’s an all-instrumental album.
It mixes jazz standards (King Cole’s When Sunny Gets Blue, Billie Holiday’s Willow Weep For Me) with western swing classics. Songs like Crazy Rhythm or Mission To Moscow, are not strictly speaking western swing tunes but have been popularized by Wills’ Tiffany Sessions.
The set is also really well built. Hammel alternates hot stuff on which he and Pigat trade licks like crazy with dreamy and reflective tunes (Tenderly) and mid-tempos (What Is This Thing Called Love) on which Hammel dialogues with himself, playing steel, guitar and accordion.
The arrangements are always innovative, like the accordion that echoes the steel on Sydney Bechet’s Si Tu Vois Ma mère.
It’s very well-produced and reminded me of the quality of Noel Boggs Quintet’s Magic Steel Guitar.
If you like albums like The Hot Guitars of Biller and Wakefield or Guitars in Perspective by John Munnerlyn and Lee Jeffriess, you can buy this one with confidence.
Grab a copy at https://tomhammel.bandcamp.com/releases

John Munnerlyn and Lee Jeffriess

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John Munnerlyn and Lee Jeffriess – Guitars in perspective

[2010]
Sins & Woes – It Ain’t Hay – Johnny Has The Keys – Make Way for Wyatt – Blues for Earl – Java Jump – Mercy Street – Hello Stranger – Can’t Go Back – Chester’s Mule – Swingin’ in the Kitchen – I Lost You

Fans of Big Sandy already know Lee Jeffriess, he’s, with Jeremy Wakefield, one of today’s most talented lap and pedal steel player, and you might remember Munnerlyn as the guitar player with the Haywoods. It’s an all instrumental album (all original material mostly from the pen of Munnerlyn). Of course the comparison with West and Bryant, or closer to us, Biller and Wakefield, comes to mind but they’re less jazzy and more country, hence the presence of a fiddle on a majority of tracks. Their sound owes more to the Texas Troubadours solo albums or the stuff Buddy Emmons cut with Howard Rhoton and Spider Wilson for Little Jimmy Dickens. You’ll also find a bit of gipsy jazz in Mercy Street and some nice Merle Travis/Chet Atkins picking on Chester’s Mule.
An excellent album that won’t be out of place near your Fly Rite Boys and Biller and Wakefield albums.
Icing on the cake, it comes in a nice digipack with a tip of the hat to Tal Farlow on the cover.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis