Gaetano Letizia,
(independent, 2016)

Cleveland-based guitarist Gaetano Letizia leads both a jazz band and a blues band, as well as working as a solo artist. This time out, he is accompanied by the Underworld Blues Rock Band, a rhythm and horn section. The result of their efforts, Resurrection, is neither pure blues nor rock, but a complete fusion: It blends those two genres and adds some funk, pop, reggae and Latin rhythms to the mix. The music these guys present is hard-driving, aggressive and funky enough to suggest James Brown.

Having been playing professionally since he was 16 and with this being his 10th album, Letizia has pronounced the theme of the album in its title. Resurrection is about the rebirth of the "Old Guitar Player," who introduces himself in the second song, after the introductory instrumental. The songs don't hammer the theme but, throughout, he sings about songs that touch on it, either directly or indirectly. The center song, "Purgatory," is about a dream the singer had in which he held a conversation with St. Peter about the difficulty for a rocker to enter Heaven. When he asks how long he'll have to serve in purgatory, St. Peter gives him the news; he's already there. The song, an uptempo rocking blues, slows down in the middle, playing tricks with the basic tempo for the solos.

This song is followed by "Mr. Bad Luck," a slow jazz tune with the horns playing response to Letizia's call. It provides a quiet comment on "Purgatory." The album closes with "Ascension," a gospel-based number that declares the blues is here to stay and will wash our troubles away. The very type of music the narrator thought was condemning him is saving him.

Resurrection is a fine, ambitious album, one that uses music in its infinite variety to make a larger statement. It's also fun to listen to.

music review by
Michael Scott Cain

21 January 2017

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