Pianist Gene Harris' 1992 quartet (with guitarist Ron Eschete, bassist Luther Hughes, and drummer Harold Jones) explores ten wide-ranging selections on this CD. But despite the very different chord changes, they are able to infuse the music with so much soul that the results are consistently bluesy. Among the tunes that Harris and his group explore are Horace Silver's "Strollin'", "Until the Real Thing Comes Along," "Jeannine", "You Make Me Feel So Young", and "Wrap Your Troubles in Dreams". An excellent effort.
Duke Robillard’s won a reputation as one of finest guitarists in blues, but this disc also displays his command of rock ‘n’ roll, country, and jazz balladry. The latter drives his duet with country star Pam Tillis, "I’ll Never Be Free," which plays off their easy vocal interplay, Robillard’s classic picking, and his band’s swinging drive. It’s also a pleasure to hear him singing and slinging guitars with blueswoman Debbie Davies on the chugging shuffle "How Long Has It Been." But the best moments may be Robillard’s incendiary solos, like when he uncorks his Stratocaster in the middle of "Deep Inside," matching his lyrics’ cry of aching devotion with a hailstorm of quivering bent notes and brightly snapped strings in sharp, stinging phrases. Three songs later he’s playing in a twang and tremolo style like a Texas roadhouse veteran. In any context, what comes from Robillard’s nimble fingers and open mind is the sound of a master at work.
Big Bill Morganfield continues to forge his own sound with a delicate balancing act on this, his forth album. He pays tribute to his dad and the Chicago sound he helped create on the title track, but he has a jazzy side that keeps moving the blues in a more sophisticated direction as well. Al Duncan's "Too Late Brother" opens things with a juke-joint rocker in the style of Morganfield's dad, with Steve Guyger's harp tossing some fat on the fire. "High Gas Prices," a Morganfield original, gives the country blues an urban edge with a tune too many sang in the waning months of 2009. Morganfield sings Pearl Woods' "I Play Dirty" with a winning combination of humor and aggression, with Clark Stern's organ giving the tune a sanctified feel. "Who's the Fool," another original, is a shuffle on the familiar subject of a faithless woman, and Morganfield growls out the lyric with plenty of panache. What really distinguishes Morganfield from his dad is his way with love songs. Muddy always sounded dangerous, even when he was proclaiming his passion. Big Bill's voice is smoother and more mellow, and when he sings a soulful tune like Buddy Guy's neo-R&B ballad "My Love Is Real," his voice has a seductive power his dad lacked.