Coco Montoya,
The Essential Coco Montoya
(Blind Pig, 2009)

If you want to know just how good Coco Montoya is, all you have to do is listen to "Sending Me Angels" on this "best of" CD. The song is a ballad, its theme redemption, and Montoya brings all of his strength, skill and emotion to it.

Other artists have done the song, but none have found their way into its soul the way he does. His vocals are dead on, his guitar licks perfectly suited to his interpretation and the rhythm section moves the tune perfectly. It's a masterful performance, and if you bought Montoya's Just Let Go CD, you've heard it. If you missed that one or Gotta Mind to Travel and Ya Think I'd Know Better, well, this CD collects the best tunes from those CDs and presents them in one package.

It's a history of where Montoya's been, a light shed on his development. Montoya, a graduate of John Mayall's Bluesbreakers and Albert King's Band, shows his versatility in this set. He plays "Do What You Want to Do" by his mentor, Albert King, and shows how much King taught him. His vibrato and string bending come directly from the master, as does his way of building a solo on this song, but even when playing King's song and utilizing King's guitar licks, he doesn't simply copy. No, Montoya is his own man. He has internalized his influences and made them his. In his playing, you hear the best of the blues masters of the past but you also see the Montoya's unique view of the present and future of the blues.

The Essential Coco Montoya is exactly what the title states: essential.

review by
Michael Scott Cain

9 January 2010

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