Saturday, October 28, 2017

Davide Pannozzo - Unconditional Love

2017 – Davide Pannozzo
Release Date : Oct 19, 2017

By Phillip Smith; Oct 21, 2017

Once settled in New York after relocating from Italy, Davide Pannozzo began working on this masterpiece called Unconditional Love.  His music reveals a distinct freshness and originality in both his writing and performance.  Produced by Steve Jordon (John Mayer Trio, Blues Brothers) and Will Lee (Paul Shaffer and the World’s Most Dangerous Band) this record is a brilliant blend of contemporary blues and jazz with a positive energy.  Pannozzo takes front and center stage on guitars/vocals, with bassist Will Lee, drummers Steve Jordon and Shawn Pelton, and both Ricky Peterson and Oli Rockberger on Hammond organ/keys.

“Six Wires” is an amazing and infectious tune in a Steely Dan kind of way, topped off with a smoking guitar performance from Pannozzo.  With every listen to “Bring Me to the Light”, I am absolutely captivated.  This lovely song has such a beautiful and relaxed melody. The funky bassline and jazz-infused instrumentation on “One and Only” swiftly lures me in to hear Pannozzo’s buttery troubadour vocals.  The blues-soaked “Chasing Illusions” is absolutely fabulous.  It cuts deep, right down to the bone.    

With the guitar prowess of Joe Satriani, Pannozzo glides through an amazing instrumental cover of “Stratus” by Billy Cobham (Mahavishnu Orchestra, Jazz is Dead).  Pannozzo’s take on George Harrison’s “Wah Wah”, from the 1970 album All Things Must Pass, sticks fairly close to the original and sounds terrific.

Unconditional Love ranks up there among my favorite releases this year.




Click on the link below to purchase this terrific album from the PhillyCheeze Amazon store.           

Saturday, October 21, 2017

André Bisson - Break

2017 –André Bisson
Release Date : Oct 20, 2017

By Phillip Smith; Oct 21, 2017

It was a welcoming surprise to hear the smashing new release Break from André Bisson. It’s been a little over two years since I reviewed his previous album Left With the Blues.  Though that recording won me over hook, line, and sinker, this album is even more captivating.  Bisson masterfully taps into his Motown, blues, and gospel influences for these compositions, and then performs them with vibrant vocals along with a tight cast of musicians. With a guitar full of twangy goodness in hand, Bisson leads his core band composed of saxophonists Bil Holinaty and Gordon Aeichele, trumpeter/cellist Loretta Hale, bassist Mike Rowell, drummer Sean Bruce Parker, and Jesse O’Brian on piano/B3 organ/Wurlitzer.

I love how the title track “Break” latches on to me from the git-go.  Bisson belts this one out of the park with fortitude.  The feel-good vibe continues onward to “How Many Times”, a swinging and soulful track which gently walks the line between Sun and Stax.  Utilizing the energizing sound of a room full of horns, and an expert rhythm section, Bisson pulls off a sweet callback to Vegas-era Elvis Presley.  Swirling sounds of organ, bountiful blasts of brass, and a groovy sax solo puts me in my happy space when “Feelin’ Fine” jets out the speakers.   

Bisson beautifully sings the blues on “Reflections”, a lovely and melancholy song delivered with a sad swirly melody.  Then with the swagger of Joe Cocker, he takes on The Beatles’ “Elenor Rigby”, giving this only cover song on the album a total make-over.

Break, Bisson’s seventh album, undeniably shows just how much of an artist he truly is. This is indeed one terrific album.       


The PhillyCheeze review of André Bisson’s “Left With the Blues” :


Saturday, October 14, 2017

Albert Castiglia - Up All Night

2017 –Ruf Records
Release Date : Oct 6, 2017

By Phillip Smith; Oct 14, 2017

Albert Castiglia is definitely on a roll. He pulls no punches on his latest album “Up All Night”.  With an all-new band consisting of bass player Jimmy Pritchard and drummer Brian Menendez, Castiglia again enlists Mike Zito to produce, help write, and toss some of his trademark guitar and vocals into the ring.  Also making appearances on this magnificent blues-rock album are music masters Lewis Stephens on keys, Sonny Landreth on slide guitar, and Johnny Sansone on harmonica.

Castiglia presses the pedal to the metal, as he lays a long trail of rubber on “Hoodoo on Me”.  Penned by Zito, this heavy-hitting blues-rocker rides a thick relentless bassline and showcases Castiglia’s guitar mastery.  Smattered with a slough-full of funky psychedelic licks, his cover of Brian Stoltz’s (funky Meters) “I’ve Been Up All Night” is engaging and groovy.  Landreth’s slide guitar on Castiglia’s tale of outrunning a hurricane in “95 South” is marvelous and swampy, just the way I love it. 

Included in this recording are a couple of outstanding songs from Graham Wood Drout (Iko Iko) who Castiglia collaborated with in 2006 on a record called The Bittersweet Sessions: “Three Legged Dog” and “Knocked Down Loaded”.  Both have the unique gift burying themselves in my head for hours on end.  I love Castiglia’s nitro-charged take on Luther “Snake Boy” Johnson’s “Woman Don’t Lie”.  It’s a sizzling delight.   

Castiglia won me over with his previous album, “Big Dog” which I reviewed in June of 2016.  I remember thinking how tough it was going to be for him to top that album. He did though.  “Up All Night” is absolutely wonderful and has set a new bar. 


The PhillyCheeze review of Albert Castiglia’s Big Dog album  > 

Click on the link below to purchase this terrific album from the PhillyCheeze Amazon store.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Marcus Randolph My Peeples Peeple - Transplant

2017 –American Showplace Music
Release Date : Oct 20, 2017

By Phillip Smith; Oct. 7, 2017

Transplant, the debut release from Marcus Randolph My Peeples Peeple, is quite the captivating and funky listen.  Randolph (founding member of the Robert Randolph and the Family Band) holds court on drums and vocals, along with both steel and acoustic guitars.  Joining Randolph on this recording is drummer Dwayne “Duce” Snelling Jr, John Ginty on B3 organ and piano, bassists Michael Randolph Jr, and Walton “A.J.” Mims, guitarists Will “B.J.” Nelson, Jimmy Bennett, and Joey Williams, and backing vocalist Shawn “The Bishup” Herbert.    

A chill hypnotic beat and a ripping guitar riff usher the album in on title track, “Transplant”, a song of gratitude to Randolph’s wife who unselfishly gave him another chance at life by donating one of her kidneys to him in 2011.  I love the swampy steel guitar on “Sucka” and how it is immersed in a funky Isaac Hayes-era Stax-friendly jam.

I can’t help but break a smile on “Lift Me Up”.  Starting with a simple beat and an acoustic guitar, this fabulous song grows to a much grander version of itself.  Another point of light is “In My Heart”, superbly performed and sung with the conviction of Stevie WonderRandolph slathers extra helpings of tasty steel guitar on “63 Hog Drive”, an outstanding jammin’ blues instrumental.  When joined by the rest of the band, it turns into one hell of a jamboree.  

Transplant comes to a smooth R&B finish with “Diggin’ Me a Hole” featuring guest artist Brian Harris aka Wonder on vocals.  Eleven tracks of fresh and funky all-original music grace the album, making for a magnificent record.


Click on the link below to purchase this terrific album from the PhillyCheeze Amazon store.