The JW-Jones Blues Band,
Kissing in 29 Days
(NorthernBlues, 2006)

On Kissing in 29 Days, the fourth of the JW-Jones Blues Band's releases (if the first I've heard), the Ottawa-based group pumps up its sound with a fat, swinging horn section, integrating jump blues, r&b, rock 'n' roll, saloon songs and jazz into the mix with deceptive ease.

Though they sound like seasoned pros, photographic evidence informs us these are relatively youthful guys -- not peach-fuzz youthful, but not old enough to have been around, or even born, when rockin', swingin' music like this was in style, in the latter 1940s and early '50s. Well, the exception -- somebody there virtually from the creation -- is the celebrated sax man David "Fathead" Newman, veteran of Ray Charles' band and an r&b/jazz eminence on his own, present in a guest role on three cuts.

It's not hard to do this sort of thing so that all in the vicinity feel as if they were choking on museum dust, but JW-Jones -- yes, a hyphen; I don't understand it, either -- and boys are not at all that sort of outfit. This is a musical approach that's been around long enough for the adjective "traditional" fairly to apply. Jones' electric guitar -- which is just terrific, by the way -- echoes (though without merely parroting) what you'll hear on B.B. King's early records. But these guys do what they do righteously and joyfully, and there's nothing distancing here; it's all up close, personal and friendly as hell. Or, in two words, it swings.

What's also impressive is that r&b horn bands are, first and foremost, dance bands. Dance halls and bars are their natural environment, not recording studios. Along with his playing and singing talents, Jones, who also produces, knows how to work a studio to shake out a vibe which conjures up the deeply pleasant illusion that the very tight yet loose-jointed band you're hearing is live on an especially fine night.

by Jerome Clark
17 March 2007

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