Friday, May 11, 2012

Johnnie Bassett I Can Make That Happen Sly Dog 2012

International Release 06/05/12
U.S. Release 06/19/12

Paying over 50 years of paying dues find Johnnie Bassett seventy six years young and still the real deal. Bassett puts the "F" in blues and that stands for fierce, fun and funky. While musical frames of reference can be a dangerous thing and of course taste is subjective think B.B. King meets Bobby Blue Bland backed with a flame throwing horn section. This is real soul music. I Can Make That Happen can touch your heart and set your hair on fire almost simultaneously.

Bassett is the end result of his own musical experience having performed with such luminaries including Smokey Robinson, Tina Turner and John Lee Hooker. Occasionally Bassett drifts to a more soulful R & B sound, sort of Bobby Blue Bland meets Muscle Shoals but instead ending up with "Muddy Waters" ( a musical pun for those of you playing along at home )  the clear voice of a great American artist that knows exactly who he is shines through. Influences do pop out on certain tunes but Bassett's open tuning, phrasing and unique way of bending a note allow his own voice to make a statement that has made him a Detroit legend for years.

The Motor City Horns pin your ears to the wall on the opening tune "Proud To Be From Detroit." Bassett then lays down a solo showing there is plenty of gas left in the tank. Rhythm and Blues fortified with an honest blues feel coming straight from the soul. Unabashed joy and a first call band that is as tight as they come. "I Can Make That Happen" has a subtle groove that you feel with your hips and hear with your feet. Easily more fun than one band should be legally allowed to have. Skeeto Valdez on drums and Chris Codish on piano along with James Simonson round out a smoking rhythm section. "Dawging Around" has a swing on steroids and this may be the key to I Can Make That Happen. This instrumental allows the ensemble to stretch out and do what they do best - play! The Hendrix classic "The Wind Cries Mary" is transformed into a harmonically adventurous psychedelic blues. A true artist can take other work and put their own stamp on the tune without disrespecting the original or themselves and Bassett slays this number.

Despite Bassett's inspired playing along with a tight rhythm section and a killer horn section there is a laid back old school approach to this release. I Can Make That Happen is more than a release for the blues fan as it is a release of rhythmic texture that transcends the blues, soul and r & b by infusing some jazz sensibilities and the end result is pure flavor!

Dig it! 5 Big Stars!

Tracks: Proud To Be From Detroit; Love Lessons; Spike Boy; I Can Make That Happen; Cry To Me; Teach Me To Love; Dawging Around; Cha'mon!; The Wind Cries Mary; Motor City Blues; Let's Get Hammered.

Personnel: Johnnie Bassett: guitar, vocals; Skeeto Valdez: drums, percussion; James Simonson: electric and acoustic bass; Chris Cordish: piano, electric piano and organ.

The Motor City Horns: John Rutherford: trombone (1,3,6,8); Bob Jensen: trumpet (1,6,8); Mark Byerly: trumpet: (1,3,8); Keith Kaminski: baritone and tenor saxophone (1 3-11), tambourine (1).

Special Guests: Brett Lucas: guitar (2,11); Thornetta Davis: vocals (6); Dwight Adams: trumpet: (4,5,7,9); Jim Brown: acoustic guitar, dobro (4).

Photo Credits Cybelle Cordish