Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Diane Blue w/ Jimmy "Two Suits” Capone and The Chan Clan

Diane Blue w/ Jimmy "Two Suits” Capone and The Chan Clan
Live at Chan’s
Review by Georgetown Fats

Live disks from a mostly cover band can be a very dicey proposition.  Usually the cover material chosen has been so overdone that the covers never stand up to the originals, which probably also have live renditions by either the songwriter or the artist that made the songs famous.  Very few live cover recordings and cover acts can challenge the originals.  Thankfully Diane Blue w/ Jimmy "Two Suits" Capone and The Chan Clan happen to have the chops which help make their “Live at Chan’s” recording such a welcome aural relief.

“Live at Chan’s” is not entirely a cover CD.  Ms. Blue and company do provide some stirring renditions of four of Ms. Blue’s original works. They are all good, solid offerings.  It is when the recording heads deep into ‘pop blues/wedding band act’ that “Live at Chan’s” shines.

“At Last”, the track made famous my Etta James, has taken on a “Stormy Monday” for female vocalists.  Having even witnessed Etta James extoll venom on the commercialization of the tune and how the majority of listeners miss the point of the track, I was extremely skeptical Ms. Blue could pull off a rendition anywhere as close to the original. For the second track on the disk, it was a very bold choice.  Luckily Diane has the power and chops to stand up to the challenge.  Bolstered by the work of the Chan Clan Horns, Jimmy “Two Suits” Capone, Bruce “The Goose” McGrath and Johnny “Blue Horn” Moriconi sticks close to the original arrangement which allow Diane to give a maximum effort performance.

On the Bill Withers classic “Use Me”, guitarist Timo Arthur locks in with bassist Lenny Bradford and Hammond B3 player Cliff Spencer on that signature hook.  Ms. Blue shows plenty of finesse by singing just a hair behind the beat, creating an irresistibly carnal dance groove.  When Timo Arthur takes the requisite guitar solo he does nothing to distract from the groove, there is just enough wah-wah to keep that that lustful groove but not enough to completely muddy up his tone.

Probably my personal favorite track on “Live at Chan’s” is Diane Blue w/ Jimmy "Two Suits" Capone and The Chan Clan is the rendition of “Fever”.  Sticking close to the Peggy Lee arrangement embrace the pop standard. Jeff “Jungle Boy” Thompson’s drum work keep the sparse instrumentation moving forward and locked in on this slow burner.  “Jungle Boy” proves to have the finesse to keep this jazzy rendition going while giving just enough power in the drum fills as to offer a spike in the dynamics without getting in the way of the tune.

“I’ll Take You There” also sticks close to the Staples Sisters recording, highlighted by Johnny “Blue Horn’s” stirring trumpet solo.  In addition to the trumpet work, Diane Blue proves to not just be a vocalist with a rocking yet understated harp solo.  Not content to just shred notes at a dizzying speed, Blue’s harmonica work offer justification to the adage of “it’s not just about the notes you play, but it’s about the spaces between the notes"...

Diane Blue w/ Jimmy "Two Suits” Capone and The Chan Clan “Live at Chan’s” is available through Ms. Blue’s web site or available at any of her live gigs such as their CD release party at Ryles on August 28th, 2010.

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