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Alphonso Sanders - Mississippi Influences

Talking Wind Music

11 tracks/45:14

This is an ambitious project that features the original compositions of Dr. Alphonso Sanders, the Chair of the Fine Arts Department and Director of the B.B. King Recording Studio at Mississippi Valley State University. Sanders’ handles the lead vocals and contributes saxophone parts to a number of tracks. He gets help from a large cast of musicians and backing vocalists. Producer Jimmie Lee Jr. also did all of the musical arrangements and played a variety of instruments.

Sanders’ has a broad vision that stretches the boundaries of what one might call Blues music. “I Don’t Mind Dreamin’ “is densely produced track that fits the adult contemporary category while “On the Inside” works as a Christian praise song. Both songs give Sanders a chance to show his skill on the saxophone. The pace picks up when Sanders pays tribute to another musical style on “Non-Stop Country Music”.

For blues fans, there are several tracks of interest. “Gotta Get Back to Prayin’ “sports a funky New Orleans-style beat and a strong vocal from Sanders. Sanders uses the bamboo flute on the brief “The Influence (Blues Interlude)”. That leads to the strongest tracks on the disc. “Delta Sun” finds Sanders backed by a piano trio. He delivers a passionate vocal and an equally engaging sax solo. Morris Hubbard shines on the piano. On the following track, Jimmie Lee Jr. turns in another dazzling turn on the piano on “Wanna Cook For Ya”, as Sanders’ voice glides over the keyboard improvisations and the finger-snapping percussion section.

“Boo-Ga-Loo” is a generic good-time party tune with heavily synthesized backing that fails to generate much interest. Sanders voice fails him as he struggles to navigate the arrangement on “Say Thanks”. The disc closes with “Happy”, a breezy tune that lacks any emotional weight. A strong sax solo at the end from Sanders fails to rescue the cut as it fades away too quickly.

Dr. Sanders is working with a broad musical palette. The performances and production are quite good, but the Blues content is limited.

EDITORS NOTE: Alphonso Sanders placed second in the 2009 International Blues Challenge solo/duet competition as part of the duet Alphonso & Richard.

Reviewer Mark Thompson is president of the Crossroads Blues Society in Rockford. IL

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