Tuesday, October 1, 2013


Hard to imagine where jump blues would be without Roomful Of Blues.  45 years ago Duke Robillard started the group out of New England with a love of horn-led, uptempo fun, in direct contrast to the electric blues that had taken over.  In all the years since, the group has been the main flag bearer for the format.  Duke's long gone, with Chris Vachon now the leader, and dozens of musicians have filled the chairs over the years, but the style remains the same.  Combining the end of the Big Band era, the early R'n'B, some Kansas City jazz, and the first hints of rock n' roll, it still swings.

To celebrate 45 (why not?), the group recorded this live set at a Rhode Island club this past spring.  With a nod to its history, the set includes numbers from all over Roomful's past - some Grammy nominated ones, and cuts that this edition of the group had never played live.  Going back to 1979, they pluck out their rewired version of Hank Williams' Jambalaya, further connecting the dots by adding country and Cajun.  That points out of the beauty of this band's approach:  They don't just pay tribute to jump blues, they are a working, current band, bringing in other influences and adapting.  There is some heavy blues electric guitar from Vachon, they can do that too.  But horns, there's always gonna be horns.  And that's what I love about 'em.  14 cuts, an hour of precision, energy and excitement.  Roomful of Blues goes back decades, their music even further, but it out-grooves the vast majority of blues groups.

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