Jazz + Blues
BluesWax Rating: 8 out of 10
A Little More Jazz than Blues, But Still Very Tasty
Jazz + Blues is the perfect title for guitarist Danny Caron’s third album. Actually all of his recordings nimbly shift between the two genres. A dozen tracks comprise Jazz + Blues, eleven are covers, one is written by Caron, and there’s one vocal tune that features Maria Muldaur singing on a John Martyn song. Perusing the song credits it’s easy to ascertain that this album is tilted more towards the jazz side with covers by Coltrane, Miles, Django, and Ellington. But it’s also a well-rounded album with two spirituals, and some really cool blues tunes, too.
The album opens bluesy with “Limehouse Blues” (performed in a B3 trio). It’s a breezy affair too with Caron swiftly vamping over Wayne De La Cruz’ B3 and Kent Bryson’s drums with gorgeous tone and vigor. Arranged by Caron, the spiritual “Deep River” utilizes the same trio as track one, but this one’s a tasty ballad that oozes with grace and style. The B3 trio exits as Maria Muldaur lends her vocals on John Martyn’s “I Don’t Want To Know,” with Ruth Davies‘ bass and Bobby Cochran‘s drums (both from Elvin Bishop’s rhythm section), plus B3/pianist John R. Burr, and it’s a gem. Caron’s guitar bites harder here with the addition of fuzz effects and Muldaur’s vocals work magic on this wisely selected cover that sumptuously simmers and slowly burns.
Coltrane’s “Spiritual” is more cerebral than the three opening songs where Caron takes us on a heady ride and shows off his exquisite and explorative muses that paint colors from the entire spectrum, John Burr’s piano solo also stands out. Caron’s lone addition, “Blues Alley (for R.L.J.)” as in Robert Lockwood Junior, is a shuffling and swinging blues tune where the B3 trio returns, and Caron’s having a ball soloing his butt off and bending strings gracefully, where everyone’s right in that magic pocket. Neal Hefti and Bobby Troup’s classic “Girl Talk” has been often covered, but it’s especially delicious here. From the historic Kind of Blue album, Miles Davis’ “Freddie Freeloader” gets rearranged stylishly with a sultry vamp from the B3 grooves of De La Cruz, and Caron’s comps and solos are also seductively sweet and sharp.
South African breezes flow on Abdullah Ibrahim’s (also known as Dollar Brand) “Water From an Ancient Well.” Caron takes on Django’s “Nuages” in a B3 trio that’s also a good fit for Jazz + Blues. From the pens of the Gershwins there’s a delectable “It Ain’t Necessarily So” that’s pretty bluesy too with some tender licks from Caron’s guitar. Via the Charles Brown songbook (which was also the title track from Danny’s prior boss) is Duke Ellington’s “I’m Just a Lucky So and So” here performed with the B3 trio yet it’s different than the Charles Brown version (no Wardell Quezergue arrangements here), but it’s probably a reverent tip of the hat to the man Caron wrote with and arranged for during Brown’s later years, sweet. This classy album concludes with a spiritual reading of “Gonna Set Down and Rest Awhile,” but it’s far from tender as Caron cuts through it with fuzzed-out tone, the entire ensemble coagulates, especially with Burr’s zesty piano fills and B3, it’s a near perfect closing selection to Jazz + Blues.
Words that come to mind when thinking about Danny Caron’s bluesy and jazzy guitar playing is his fluidity and dexterity that also evokes adventure, plus his tone offers what many guitarists would kill for. It was no wonder that the great Charles Brown utilized his services for so many years. Closing thought: Danny’s debut solo album Good Hands was released in 2003, his previous How Sweet It Is came along in 2008. I find that waiting four years is just too long for Jazz + Blues. So come on Danny, keep the good tunes coming, and please don’t let us wait too long for the next one, but thank you for Jazz + Blues. Last, but not least, from an audiophile’s perspective this disc offers sweet, full-textured, and impeccably detailed sound. So sit back and enjoy the well-chosen tunes and engaging guitar work from Mr. Caron, and the various bands Caron employs that perform at lofty levels throughout.
Bob Putignano is a senior contributing editor at BluesWax, a contributing writer at Blues Revue, and the heart and soul of Sounds of Blue.
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