A roomful of jazz standards
Reviewed December 2008
A Swingin' Session with Duke Robillard
By Duke Robillard
Stony Plain Records: 2008
To hear sound clips or learn more about this release, Turbula recommends viewing its Amazon.com entry.
Duke Robillard's last release, 2007's "World Full of Blues," was a double CD featuring nearly two hours of covers and originals with a host of musicians including guest guitarists. The greatest constant was his vocal stylings and focus on blues tunes. With his new release, "A Swinging Session with Duke Robillard," the Duke is back and so are many of the familiar Roomful of Blues sidemen, and some other superb players but this time out the title says it all. This is a swing jazz album, and a damn good one.
The tunes here are tightly arranged and anchored by an excellent rhythm section, with Roomfull drummer Mark Teixeira and Marty Ballou on standup bass pushing the beat on swing treatments of familiar tunes like the opener "Deed I Do," Ray Charles' "Them that Got," "Meet Me at No Special Place" and even Irving Berlin's "The Song Is Ended."
Robillard's playing is, as always, tasteful and restrained; he takes his turn soloing on each of the ten offerings here and stretches out only on two original instrumentals, the jumping "Red Dog" and especially the album-closing "Swinging with Lucy Mae." The other players have chops that fit right in with the Duke, with Bruce Katz work on organ and Scott Hamilton on tenor sax laying down some serious late-night magic.
Duke Robillard is one of only a few guitarists who is able to move in and out of both blues and jazz idioms without losing any impact in either style. His earthy, R&B-influenced vocals may be the only part of the package that some listeners might find a bit hard getting used to. He sings these songs with a Southern twang and a hint of hickory, much like he does on his blues discs. The results give old standards like "The Lonesome Road" and "They Raided the Joint," an added boost of homespun charm, and on the other tunes they don't get in the way of the jazzy feel of the "Swingin' Session."
Review by Frank Kocher, a longtime San Diego resident, musician, music collector and frequent contributor to The San Diego Troubadour.