Roy Gaines & his Orchestra,
Tuxedo Blues
(Black Gold, 2010)

Veteran jazz guitarist Roy Gaines has made a name for himself in nearly every musical genre; he's the go-to studio player for jazz, blues, soul and R&B albums, as well as a master bandleader on his own. He's probably best known for being a member of the Crusaders, a first-rate progressive jazz group, but when this CD gets around, he'll be best known for it.

Assembling a big band filled with the guys he's worked with all through his decades-old career, a band made up veterans of the big bands of the 1940s as well as the cream of younger players, Gaines listened to more than 50 albums by Count Basie, 60 by Duke Ellington and half a dozen by the great blues vocalist Jimmy Rushing to get into the spirit of the music.

It worked. If you want to get straight to the heart of the matter, Tuxedo Blues is one of the best albums of the year.

The CD features great musicians playing the music that they love best, and the players give it everything they have. Evidently, Gaines' immersion into the roots of the music he's playing inspired not just him but the whole band. Everybody plays brilliantly.

Gaines gives all the players a chance to stretch out by giving away the first solo most of the time, making his own the second or third that the song offers. It's a very effective strategy, one that takes advantage of the talents of the orchestra as a whole instead of reducing them to sophisticated accompaniment. He sings leads in a gruff but smooth and assured voice and solos in a style that owes a lot to the great T-Bone Walker. He doesn't just imitate Walker, though; he is always his own man, a master of his instrument.

If you like to hear a great player at the peak of his powers roaring through a beautifully arranged set of tunes, in fact, if you like music at all, you've got to hear Roy Gaines' Tuxedo Blues.

[ visit the artist's website ]

music review by
Michael Scott Cain

22 January 2011

Agree? Disagree?
Send us your opinions!

what's new