Ed Kelly, piano; Kevin Stewart, piano; Charles Spikes, guitar and vocals; Harley White, trombone and bass; George Hubbard, vocals; James Carraway, tenor sax; Joe Thornton, alto sax; Ron Belcher, bass; Larry Vann, drums; Paul Tillman Smith, drums and percussion; Richard Mayers, congas, harmonica and percussion; and Khalil Shaheed, trumpet. Background vocals: Judith Harris-Coleman, Freddie Hughes, Carla Careen, Aletha Archie and Kate Shaheed
This collaboration derived from the jam sessions at Bluesville in Oakland which were presided over by the esteemed Ed Kelly. Eight of the twelve selections were written by members of the group. Band leader, Khalil Shaheed, is quoted in the liner notes stating that they created "musical group therapy" and listening to this CD will certainly improve ones well-being.
The opening cut, "Bluesville," is a swinging Jazz excursion. The tunes "Too Much" and "One Summer Night" feature groovy vocals by George Hubbard. Hubbard croons his way through the contemporary tune "Baby Cakes" with solid background vocals. The Charlie Parker standard, "Billie's Bounce," has Hubbard impressively experimenting with the Eddie Jefferson lyrics. The title cut, "Big Belly Blues," is a grinding bluesy arrangement. Hubbard's interpretation on the Horace Silver tune, "Soul Mates" is superb and the trumpet solo by Shaheed is beautifully rendered. The catchy tune, "Texas Boy," has a bluesy feel and features Charles Spikes on vocals and guitar on his composition.
If one is looking for blues on this product they are barking up the wrong tree--this CD is crammed full of good Jazz. It is a well-crafted effort by a group of seasoned artists. An excellent buy!
by Dorothy L. Hill
New Sounds - September 2004
Jazz Now Interactive September 2004 Vol 14 No. 5 - Table of Contents