Duke Robillard – They Called It Rhythm & Blues – LP
Anyone who knows Duke’s music, will immediately smile at the first few seconds of the opening track “Here I’m Is” from the new album They Called It Rhythm & Blues, available from Stony Plain Records on March 18, 2022. It’s that joyous jump-blues shuffle sound that Duke has been perfecting since the late 60s.
Indeed, every song on this generous 18-song album is about the groove, master musicianship, great understated taste and a perfect band mix that always complements the pulse and the singer. Duke’s guitar is at the centre and brings it all together.
For a lifetime Duke Robillard has been playing the jazzy corners of the blues. He was a founder of Roomful of Blues in the early 1970s, and replaced Jimmy Vaughan in the Fabulous Thunderbirds in the 1990s and was a core member of the New Guitar Summit through the 2000s, in addition to releasing an astounding 37 albums on his own. He has won the W.C. Handy Award as Best Blues Guitarist an astounding four times, and been nominated for two Best Blues Album Grammy Awards. He is credited with taking the blues to a new level for multiple generations of blues guitarists.
A1. Here I'm Is – 2:20 A2. No Good Lover (feat. Sue Foley) – 3:36 A3. Tell Me Why (feat. Kim Wilson) – 2:43 A4. Homeless Blues (feat. John Hammond) – 5:00 A5. Rambler Blues (feat. Sugar Ray Norcia) – 3:38 A6. Outta Here - 4:00
B1. In The Wee Wee Hours – 2:55 B2. B2. Champagne Mind (feat. Michelle Wilson) – 3:15 B3. She's My Baby (feat. Sugar Ray Norcia) – 3:30 B4. The Things I Forgot To Do (feat. Kim Wilson) – 3:58 B5. No Place To Go (feat. John Hammond) – 3:54 B6. I Can't Understand It – 2:39
Duke Robillard (guitar, vocals) , Chris Cote (vocals) , Bruce Bears (piano, organ) , Marty Ballou (acoustic & electric bass), Mark Teixeira (drums), Doug James (baritone & tenor sax).
Duke Robillard has been defined as not merely a great artist, but also a true historian, scholar and curator who is adept at electric and acoustic blues, jazz, jump, swing, ballads and standards. He proves that with the fluency he demonstrates on this album that visits the music that defined what came to be called “Rhythm & Blues.” Grammy-nominated and a five-time winner of the Blues Music Award as best guitarist, over his 50 plus year career Duke has been a prolific songwriter and is considered a blues guitar master.
Joining the guitar maestro (who also produced) is an all-star cast of special guests, including John Hammond, Kim Wilson, Sue Foley, Sugar Ray Norcia, Michelle Willson, Chris Cote, Bruce Bears, Marty Ballou, Mark Teixeira, Doug James, Mike Flanigin, Mark Earley, Doug Woolverton and Matt McCabe.
Robillard is effusive in his praise for his special guests on They Called It Rhythm & Blues and the magic they helped create in the studio. “I have to say, I couldn’t be more pleased with the outcome of the sessions for this album. It’s just a damn good representation of my band, the guest artists and the music we chose to record. I threw in a few of my own tunes written for the occasion also, and it makes a pretty well-rounded package I believe.
“Chris Cote, who has taken over most of the vocals in my band since our Blues Bash CD, has been a great band addition. He’s a powerhouse vocalist who can literally sing anything. His six spirited vocals here give the album a pretty high bar to start with. And on top of that he’s a great guitarist also!
“I have worked with Doug James from the early seventies on and off and he has spent quite a few years as a DRB member. On many of the tunes here, Doug is the whole horn section. He did an extraordinary job and with engineer Graham Mellor’s use of the right ribbon mic on him, Mister Low’s sound was captured like it’s never been captured before.
“Mark Earley and Doug Woolverton also added great depth to the tunes they played sax and trumpet on, also. As for the guest vocalists, I was lucky to get help from so many great artists. John Hammond, who I’ve called my friend since the 1970s and toured with many times and recorded with and co-produced his Found True Love album. Recording with John is always a pleasure. On this session, once we had sounds, it was play live and kill it in a take or two. Part of the reason to do more than one take was to prolong the joyous experience. John is always on and always an extreme pleasure to play with.
“There was a tune by Mickey and Sylvia I always wanted to do called ‘No Good Lover,’ and Sue Foley was quick to OK the tune and idea of recording it with me. I wrote an instrumental as a tribute Bill Jennings, Billy Butler, Bill Doggett and Wild Bill Davis and both Sue and Mike Flanigin agreed to recording both tunes long distance down in Austin, Texas. I’m really psyched about how they came out and ‘No Good Lover’ will be our first video for the album!
“Old band mate from my Thunderbird days Kim Wilson was up for being a guest and we chose two of his early tunes he originally recorded with the T-Birds. I’m pretty damn happy with the results personally! Kim kills both tunes the way he always does – of course. Matt McCabe plays piano on ‘Tell Me Why.’
“Michelle Willson, AKA ‘The Evil Gal,’ gladly added her expertise to two tracks that show her rockin’ R&B side with ‘Champagne Mind’ and her very deep blues side with her amazing reading of ‘Trouble in Mind.
“I’ve known Sugar Ray Norcia for too many decades to count and anyone who is a true fan of deep Chicago and also Jumpin’ R&B knows he is one of the heaviest cats as a vocalist and as a blues harmonica giant. Ray’s rendition of Tampa Red’s ‘Rambler Blues,’ which originally had Big Walter Horton on harp, was the perfect vehicle for Ray to pay tribute to his old friend Big Walter. Ray suggested Jimmy Nelson’s ‘She’s My Baby,’ which I wasn’t familiar with, but it sure was a great choice! Again, Ray found a way for his harp to perfectly fit the tune and again, there are echoes of the great Big Walter here, but at the same time it’s pure Sugar Ray!”
1. La Hora Del Blues - 2022.11.05
Since the first album notes, every good blues fan will immediately discover it comes from Duke Robillard. Not in vain and, since the early sixties, Robillard has devoted his career to perform and make popular the real jump blues and, of course, the most genuine 40’s and 50’s West Coast and rhythm & blues sounds.
Founder of the legendary Roomful Of Blues and owner of an impressive collection of 78 and 45 rpm records and LP’s, Robillard is a true master of the styles he tastefully performs. His musical talent is recognized internationally by legions of fans who faithfully follow him.
Over the years Duke Robillard has put his voice and guitar in countless projects of musicians from Rhode Island or Texas. Some of these musicians contribute now in Duke’s new album, that includes eighteen songs where, besides Duke Robillard on guitar and vocals, you will find Chris Cote on vocals, Bruce Bears on piano and organ, Marty Ballou on bass and double bass, Doug James on tenor and baritone sax and Mark Teixeira on drums. Together with them, a rooster of deluxe guest musicians like John Hammond, Kim Wilson, Michelle Willson, Sue Foley, Sugar Ray Norcia, Mike Flanigin, Mark Earley, Doug Woolverton, Matt McCabe and Anita Suhanin.
An excellent and essential album that gathers all the ingredients and the perfect final production to be considered one of those treasures every fan must have in his record collection.
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