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EVENTS CD REVIEW --  Chicago Blues All-Stars

CHICAGO BLUES ALL-STARS

Red, Hot and Blue

Azure Music, 2013 (AZR 1001)

Chicago Blues All Stars CD art

By Pierre Lacocque

1. Everything’s Going To Be Alright, 4:33; 2. Feeling Sexy, 4:32; 3. Wonder Why, 4:11; 4. Snatch It Back And Hold It, 3:41; 5. Wang Dang Doodle, 4:54; 6. Walking The Dog, 4:47; 7. Why You Treat Me This Way, 4:44; 8. Hoodoo Man Blues, 5:02; 9. Rock Me Baby; 10. Let Me Love You Baby, 4:53; 11. Mad Hatter’s Blues, 7:42.

Total Time: 54:35 -- Liner notes by Bill Dahl

 

With a name like The Chicago Blues All-stars (CBAS), and with 10 of their 11 recorded songs being known blues covers like “Rock Me Baby,”  “Wang Dang Doodle” or “Everything’s Going To Be Alright,” you would expect another uninspiring rendition of these old blues standards. This is far from the case here. Every known cover in this exciting CD is treated from a totally new (and non-traditional) blues angle: Funk, funk, and funk again.  The songs have blues changes, but you will not recognize these well-known songs except for their lyrics! If I had to summarize this CD with a catch-all phrase, I would give it the moniker “Funk Passion”.  Funk music is in their blood. They cannot escape from it, and it shows on each single track. 

 

The Chicago Blues All-stars (CBAS) is the brainchild of guitar player/singer Daniel Ivankovich (a.k.a. “Chicago Slim”) and Ray “Killer” Allison. “Killer Ray” was formerly a drummer for legends like Buddy Guy, Koko Taylor, and Junior Wells, but is now playing guitar and fronting the CBAS on vocals. The band concept began in 2007, and evolved into the ensemble that it is today. All angles are covered here: Three male instrumentalists/singers, and one outstanding female singer named Anji Brooks (more below), two funky guitar players (Dan Ivankovich and Killer Ray), a stellar keyboard player (Roosevelt “Mad Hatter” Purifoy, who is the author of the disc’s lone original tune), and a strong and seasoned harp player (Scott Dirks, who blends in quite well with a Taj Mahal-like dirty harp tone), an outstanding horn section led by Johnny Cotton, and last, but not least, a dead-on and powerful rhythm section with Johnny B. Gayden on bass (formerly with Albert Collins) and Jerry Porter on drums (who took the drums duties with Buddy Guy after “Killer” left the band).

 

The singer who stands out the most here is newcomer Anji Brooks. She sings on three tunes, and does so with heart and conviction.  She is an exciting new voice in Chicago!  Discovered by Killer Ray Allison, Ms. Brooks has a great future ahead of her.

 

 “Red, Hot & Blue” will likely not appeal to blues purists. Being comfortable with the band’s name will depend on the listener’s definition as to what Chicago Blues music is, and what it is not. Regardless, this All-Stars band is at the forefront of a trend with many Chicago blues band of recent years: focusing heavily on the Soul, Funk and/or R&B sound.  Some, like with this recording, will focus almost entirely on the Soul-and-Funk blues sound. Other blues bands will lean more towards the R&B, or even Rock sound.  

 

This high-powered and well-produced CD was recorded in Chicago at the Rax Trax Recording. It was engineered by Rick Barnes, with additional engineering from Malcolm Giron.

 

The band boasts an exciting who-is-who in its line-up.  That alone makes this CD a historical event. I enjoyed listening to it. You can feel the energy - and love - these musicians put into this recording. It has a definite urgency to it, with no time being wasted. If you like passionate and danceable funky blues music, I would recommend his CD. It certainly caught my interest.

For info: www.bluesallstars.com

To buy: iTunes

 

Pierre Lacocque is the bandleader/ harmonica player/ songwriter for Delmark Recording artists Mississippi Heat. For info: www.mississippiheat.net

 

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