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Beverly Lewis - All Shades of Blues
10 songs; 38:16 minutes; Meritable
Styles: Jazzy Blues and Bluesy Jazz
Jazz...or...Blues? How about Jazz and Blues! The origins of these two genres are similar, owing to African Americans of the 1800s and 1900s under European descendents’ musical influences. There are differences, but one would be hard pressed to clearly and succinctly state them in just a sentence or two. Blurring lines between and employing elements of both comes Florida’s veteran Jazz songstress Beverly Lewis.
“All Shades of Blues” is a collection of nine cover songs featuring a sample of all different kinds of Blues from various writers such as Denise LaSalle, Joe Zawinul, and Miles Davis to Peter Chatman. Swing dancers and Blues dancers, should have fun dancing to this release.
The musicianship is one of the highlights of the CD. A very fine band is led by Lewis’s producer, engineer, music arranger, guitarist and husband John Fifield with Randy Singer on harmonica, Goran Rista and Lee Levin on drums, Sammy Figueroa on percussion, Gabe Vales on electric bass, Gabriel Vivas on electric and acoustic bass, Paul Banman and Doug Emery on keyboards, Teddy Mulet on brass, and David Fernandez on reeds.
Lewis kicks off the album with one of the Bluesiest numbers, Denise LaSalle's upbeat “Someone Else Is Steppin' In” opened and propelled by Fifield's sweet, studied slide guitar. Randy Singer adds a tasty harp solo at mid song.
The fourth track is a medley pairing “Every Day I have The Blues” and “Fine and Mellow.” Here is one of the best examples of the full band in a smooth, jazzy groove arrangement with Lewis mixing in some scatting with the vocals. Shining brightly, each player’s sounds are cohesive elements of the well oiled overall mix.
Opening with Singer’s wonderful chromatic harp, “Since I Fell for You," provides an opportunity for Lewis to wrap her arms, legs, and voice around her man in this mid tempo, most popular love song.
The very next song is an abrupt turn, a real burner: "It's Love Baby" (24 Hours a Day).” Beverly belts out the lyrics while the rhythm kicks under a smoking guitar and wild harp. This shade of Blues is the rocking shade!
The disc ends with nineteen seconds of fun. It’s a unique track with a dog being given co-composer credits. The only original on the CD, it was written by Beverly, John Fifield, and their dog Scarlet who does the “singing.” As John picks a few short acoustic guitar notes,
Beverly coaxes Scarlet to “sing the blues baby” and the dog performs “Howlin' Dog Blues.” Honestly, my cat didn’t really like it.
Across the set, Lewis’s voice is confident, pleasant and entertaining displaying both power and range. Somehow, the translation from Jazz to Blues doesn’t fully come across with the gut-feeling expressed by a Shemekia Copeland or Reba Russell. But, those two are world class singers as only few are. I would be happy to someday catch Beverly Lewis performing in a Florida night spot, especially if she’s backed by the guitar and harp work heard on this CD.Reviewer James "Skyy Dobro" Walker is a noted Blues writer, DJ, Master of Ceremonies, and Blues Blast contributor. His weekly radio show "Friends of the Blues" can be heard Saturdays 8 pm - Midnight on WKCC 91.1 FM and at www.wkccradio.org in Kankakee, IL. To See James “Skyy Dobro” Walker's CD rating system, CLICK HERE.