july 2008

3Ronnie Hawkins: Mojo Man/Arkansas Rockpile
Although the original albums represented in this Collectors' Choice two-fer, Mojo Man and Arkansas Rockpile, were issued in, respectively, 1967 and 1970, the 23 tracks on the CD were recorded between 1959 and 1963. At that time, Huntsville, AK-born Ronnie Hawkins was one of the most dynamic rock 'n' roll performers on the scene. In 1958, on the advice of Conway Twitty, Hawkins took his powerhouse band, the Hawks (which included a fellow Arkansas native in Helena's Levon Helm on drums), and relocated to Canada, from where he continued to launch incendiary rock 'n' roll assaults, with an even more formidable version of the Hawks, which came to include native Canadian Robbie Robertson, Rick Danko, Richard Manuel and Garth Hudson. His band went on to become The Band, but Hawk went on being Hawk, rarely (but always cleverly) departing from the blues- and rockabilly-based sounds and the big beat that drove audiences wild.

garrettAmos Garrett: Get Way Back: A Tribute to Percy Mayfield
Veteran guitarist Amos Garrett, whose studio credits range from Stevie Wonder to Anne Murray to Emmylou Harris to Maria Muldaur (among many, many others), has fashioned a beautiful tribute to “The Poet of the Blues,” Percy Mayfield, on the easygoing Get Way Back, which leans heavily on Mayfield’s Tangerine catalogue and avoids both “Please Send Me Someone to Love” and “Hit the Road, Jack” (“Well, those songs have been sung before,” Garrett says). Working with a sharp septet featuring horns and Hammond organ complementing the basic drums-string-bass-piano-guitar combo, Garrett makes it a tossup as to whether the star of this outing is his mellow vocal drawl (so much his own but also reminiscent of Mayfield’s deceptively casual style) or his personable guitar stylings.

2Roy Hargrove: Earfood
In explaining his aims in recording Earfood, Roy Hargrove said his plan was to deliver “…a recording steeped in tradition and sophistication, while maintaining a sense of melodic simplicity,” with the ultimate goal being to give the listener “a feeling of transcendence.” The trumpeter hit his mark. His tight, disciplined quintet is in perfect tune with its leader’s mindset, playing with an easygoing grace and bracing emotional heat on a baker’s dozen tunes consisting of seven Hargrove originals and six tasty covers.

tisdaleWayman Tisdale: Rebound
None of Wayman Tisdale’s previous album have been freighted with more personal relevancy to his own life and philosophy than this, his eighth album, titled Rebound. In March of last year Tisdale was diagnosed with bone cancer; now, after a grueling regimen of chemotherapy and knee replacement surgery, he’s back, sounding and looking at full strength, with one of the most appealing and vibrant long players of the year, evidence anew that upon his return to the active list he brought his A++ game.

4Rob Roy Parnell: Let’s Start Something
Brother of Lee Roy, Rob Roy Parnell shares his sibling’s love of Texas roadhouse music—short for blues, hard country boogie and classic R&B—and testifies to the depth of his feelings on every well crafted cut of his sophomore album, Let’s Start Something.

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