Twenty three past two on a rainy Saturday night/Sunday morning . . . I'm just back from an evening of Bensen-Scott Big Band jazz . . . a musical organization that gives relevance to that old "stone cold gas" chestnut. We're talkin' big, bold and sassy brass interpretations of Ellington, Jimmy Van Heusen . . . "Here's To That Rainy Day," Hoagy Charmichael and all that marvelous, sophisticated, and just plain cool jazz.
Yeah, Gene Bensen, Regent Scott and the fourteen, fifteen, sixteen other cats just spent a few hours of their lifetime creating the sounds that had pretty women in their sexy summer dresses, and the dapper and lucky cats they were with, dancing through the moon lit rain. Just sensational! My suggestion is to log onto www.bsbb.us and place your order for their latest CD "Dreams Do Come True." You won't regret it.
So now its time to say goodnight, but I see there's this parcel that arrived in the post and it begs to be opened because the return address belongs to the one and only Ms. Roxy Perry. This can't wait till daybreak.
And so I open it to find a new CD and there she is, the beautiful brown-eyed girl Van Morrison still sings about on satellite radio.
What's one to do at twenty to three? Find the Discman, man! And so I do and remove the japa meditation disc and insert the new one. Headphones on and away we go: Instantly we're hit with the second big band sound of the evening, this time it's a wall of blues, a sound as thick as a teenagers belligerent head . . . and we learn that Roxy's been down this road many times in the past, well hey, you know, they say three times a charm and this is the lady's third solo CD, okay? You got a Memphis kind of organ thing riffing off the piano, guitar and Eric Merovitch's horns . . . and the queen informs us that she's "Back In Bluesville" stayin' down on the end of lonely street? Not sure of the exact location, but "you know the hotel there just keeps my room on hold," and that's where this CD is coming from. This opener ends with a Twilight Zone/Raymond Chandler mystery riff that warns . . . experienced blues travelers only . . . all others proceed at your own risk.
"Whole Dog," is next and you better you pay attention 'cause Roxy's running it down for you with vocals as smooth as a floor polished by the deaf dude who lives above you in 6M. We got some tasty sax riffs trading off with some smoldering vocals, and hey, hey, hey, this is some second helping, we still got nine more slices to go. Whose idea was it to order the extra jalapenos? Tasty, with a kick of Bob Fusco's bass, like the Times Square shuttle, sneakin' under the whole thing. I mean, you know it's there even when you don't know it's there, but he'll get you over to 42nd Street in time to catch Solomon Burke at BB Kings. Reliable, you can count on Bobby and the Queen, she knows all about that. Why do you think she's laughin' at the end of the cut?
And this "Midnight Train" through Bluesville doesn't just stop at BB's. Oh no, we can go back in time as well, and on cut three, I mean, it's 1950 and Peggy Lee is intoxicated down on Bourbon Street, you dig? Go on ask, what is this man saying now? But get that rock dream fixed in your head and please don't misunderstand, that's not Roxy, she's as together as she's ever been, but we got proof positive that Mr. Zimmerman and U2 don't own the Daniel Lanois sound. Oh mercy, he wasn't even in Bluesville on the nights all this went down. Yeah, there's the haunting sound of her harp and some underscored Spector-inspired multi-finger snapping over the light and tight honky tonk piano and guitar . . . both cutting through some thick swamp fog . . . all under and not fighting, at peace actually, with the Queen's laid back smooth and oozing vocals . . . proving less is more and that there ain't a style she can't sing. Last stop; please check the overhead rack for your personal belongings.
So after what was left of the moonshine and a few hours sleep on a sleepy dusty delta dawn we find ourselves on the front porch, and it's not even noon yet, and 96 humid degrees. So what's a poor girl to do 'cept walk down that "Crooked Path." I mean half the horn section went to town looking for what they need and the rest of the boys are out back drinkin' peach wine and eatin' tatar salad . . . hey, every young man needs some recreation, you dig? But the Queen's just hangin' with Matt Baxter and his Dobro, and letting you know, hey, you may have enjoyed the first three tunes, and don't get me wrong, I'm delighted you did, but I don't really need that big old thick wall of blues thing to put over what lies under my agenda. I can sit on an old country porch in the heat and blend in with the folks, but don't for a second forget that I am royalty, you know? So let's just sit a spell and pick a bit.
At this point, my friends I will say that "Crooked Path' is the cut.
You know every movie has that scene or that line, and the sign of a great CD is that cut. The one, you know, one could argue that it's all subjective, but that argument in itself is, you see? So to you, it's that one and to him it's the other, and that guy over there, the one with the two left feet, I mean that poor bastard isn't even listening to the same record. I mean, he's still back in the 70's figuring' how he's gonna beat Ticketmaster tomorrow morning at 9 and score some McCartney tickets, alright? Nothin' wrong with that, see? Even if he ends up buyin' 'em on eBay. Cool, get it done, right? But the thing is, what I really mean is reality is all there is, only our individual interpretations of it differs. That said, "Crooked Path" blows me away and is worth the price of admission, we're talking a small slice of 100% pure purity and we're here in 2005. It's worth a major celebration to learn it still exists. What a cut!
And there's a lot more! On "Nothing Like You" you got a woman talking truthful trash in the key of Dixieland on a riverboat with Pete Fountain when he was just a kid. Roxy nails the last line, the "I ain't nu uh thin like you." Made me smile.
Need a little boogie? There's "Two Left Feet," a little 1946 Louie Jordan -zoot suite jive. Why not? And if you've just come of age and are just havin' your first taste . . . welcome children, it's always new for someone and today's your lucky day.
Next she's goin' down, down, down like a "Stone In The Sea," and time is tight so you best get the hell out of her way because there's nothing more dangerous that a blues woman in lust. The guitar work shines on this one, but just like on every other cut, it's totally imaginative and smooth as the rough surface of a starfish - vocals that drip all over your headphones like hot fudge on cherry vanilla ice cream.
On "Get It" we've got some hot rod Lincoln guitar blazing under her breezy harp playing just seconds before she wails "tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow," who the hell knows about that, you understand? So the queen suggests, in no uncertain terms, that you get it before it goes." Who can argue?
"Forgive and Forget" is next and we welcome Booker T and The MG's, special mystery guest stars here for sure. Unless, Roxy's band . . . Dave Fields, Tim DeHuff, Eric Merovitch, Linda Geiger, and Bob Fusco duplicated The MG's patented sound. And hey, with no offense intended, that's an impossibility, right? So here's to the mystery guests who must be playing without credit due to some type of legal mumbo jumbo. It don't matter anyway because this tribute to the Stax Volt sound is just another way of underscoring and presenting the sugar in the tea vocal styling of the queen who swears she was good, and hey, that's all you need to know.
Next Ms. Perry demands that you "Do It." And if you can't understand what she's laying down here, well get up and just do it over there. I mean, if this song was a book it could be called "Blues For Dummies" because it's a straight out no holds bared invitation to just get on with it, you know, or else . . . later and enough . . . and it had to be said so that's it.
And somehow our trip through Bluesville ends up at "The House of the Rising Sun." Doesn't it always? I mean, come on, if we're really going to be honest and adults about all this you have to admit, that one way or another we always end up here even if it's just for a road runner. Dylan got here first on his debut LP, and, of course Eric Burdon brought the joint to the attention of the masses with the aid of some good old fashioned mid-60's payola and the then flourishing Top 40 format.
I remember one time when I was in New Orleans riding around in the back of a horse drawn carriage and the ebony dude who was showing us around took us to this place and explained that this was where fathers brought their sons to lose their virginity, and hence it was called The House of the Rising Son (Delta humor you see) and now it's like a few years later, and here's Roxy Perry doin' the tune. Could anything be more perfect? Only CD #4 as a collection of all authentic, public domain blues classics, but we're getting way ahead of ourselves here. Right now you have the opportunity to hear Roxy Perry singing "The House of the Rising Sun," a cut that on its own, makes 2005 a great year.
There's no more music, just another great photo of Ms. Perry on the back looking all pretty and peaceful and cool and so, you know, I got mine, and you all should get your own.
I gotta call this night a day, so see you in my dreams.