Matt Blostein/Vinnie Sperrazza Band - Paraphrase (Yeah-Yeah, 2011) This is an interesting young quartet with a lineup of Blostein on alto saxophone, Sperrazza on drums, Jacob Garchick on trombone and Geoff Kraly on electric bass. The rather unique setting gets an interesting sound with the saxophone and trombone on the front line without piano or guitar to support them. Kraly's electric bass does that duty along with locking in with the drums to keep the beat moving. The uptempo tracks like "One Hour" and "TJ" are quite effective with the bass ranging from from rhythm to solo and back and the the horns swirling and swaying on the front line. The ballads explore open space with the concluding track "Let Your Arms Fall Down" using silence and space as a force to shape the instruments and improvisation. A promising album from an interesting group. Paraphrase - amazon.com
John Lee Hooker Plays and Sings the Blues (MCA/Chess, 1961) This is a great short collection of the legendary blues guitarist and singer John Lee Hooker focusing on some of his earliest recordings from the early 50's. I used to have this on cassette back in the day and it was on heavy rotation in my first car. Hooker's driving heavily amped guitar and rhythmic foot stomping drive the music relentlessly forward. "Mad Man Blues" simply roars along in overdrive as the title might suggest with Hooker's guitar overloading the primitive recording equipment and and his voice darkly ominous throughout. "Me and My Telephone" sets up a great rhythm with foot tapping and guitar strumming, while "Worried Life Blues by Big Maceo gets deep in the heart of the blues. This album has been overshadowed by many more comprehensive collections, but can't be beat for a short, sharp blast of concentrated blues. Plays & Sings the Blues - amzon.com
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