Thursday, June 6, 2013

Paul Gabriel and the Blues

Here's one you'll have to seek out, but when you do I think you'll be blown away by the blues music of Paul Gabriel on "What's The Chance" (Blue Dutchess 2013). This is pretty authentic stuff, 13 compositions by Gabriel himself that hearken back to work of his predessessors.
PG_Cover-01.jpgI am not a blues expert and cannot cite all of the antecedents that are represented here. My blues roots originated not with the pioneers but rather with the music of the late 60s. so my roots are in bands like the Electric Flag, The Paul Butterfield Blues Band, The "Super Session" recording and subsequent music of Mike Bloomfield, Eric Clapton with and without Cream, mid-period B.B. King, and Johnny Winter. And I hear a lot of that music in this set.

It doesn't hurt that Gabriel, who demonstrates himself to be not only a super vocalist with range and style but also a solid composer and lyricist, has a couple of aces in the hole in Duke Robillard on guitar and Mark Naftalin, of Butterfield fame, on piano to go along with a solid band that includes organ, saxes, trumpet, bass and drums in varying combinations. Oh, and Gabriel plays a pretty mean guitar to boot.

59lpresize2.jpgThe opener "Old Time Ball" is an up-tempo blues that immediately reminded me of the work of the Electric Flag on their initial outing. Full-voiced, mid-tempo,  soulful blues singing backed by greasy guitars, saxes et al, it says immediately that this is a set to be reckoned with, the real thing in modern dress. It immediately got my toes tapping.  Robillard on second solo lights it up -- no wonder he is out on the road with Bob Dylan at present. Next we go mid-tempo with a real bluesy, soulful "Ride, Ride, Ride" which is lit by the outstanding play of the band, and establishes Gabriel's vocal range.  

"328 Chauncy Street" is all instrumental and all-world, with solos from Robillard and Gabriel on the guitars, and a really fine solo from Bruce Bears on organ. And by the way, what fictional family lived on Chauncey Street? (answer buried below). "Baby I Wish" returns to a soulful mournful mid-tempo blues with Gabriel's lyrics backed by the full band and in particular the sax section and Bears on organ.

"Devil's Daughter" is a stripped down, accoustic blues that would fit beautifully into Eric Clapton's "Unplugged" set. It's a great mid-tempo shuffle blues, and besides the sculpted voice of Gabriel includes Mark Naftalin on upright piano. Catch the B.B. King vibes on "All that Time Gone" with Robillard wailing on his guitar, or a really soulful slow blues on "Roomful of Blues" with its outstanding tenor solo by Rich Lataille with Bears on organ, and finally the quiet two person blues of "Fine At'Tire" -- Gabriel singing and Naftalin on the piano.

This is a wow CD. It's on a small label, "Blue Dutchess", which is the imprint of Duke Robillard, and hopefully it will get lots of radio play to find a wider audience. In the meantime, listen to a masterly recording and tell your friends about it. If you are into guitars check out his website and gallery of guitars.

Oh -- The Kramdens

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