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Chris Duarte – Blues In The Afterburner
As he has done on his previous outings, Chris Duarte continues to derive from his Stevie Ray/Hendrix influences to turn out a piece of work with a solid foothold in rock colored by blues flourishes.
Always employing rotating personnel for his rhythm section is a challenge for Duarte. He has no problems in doing it and certainly drummer Aaron Haggerty and bassist Robert Watson lock in tightly with Duarte’s guitar wizardry. Watson in particular is turned up loud in the mix so his bass rumblings run parallel to Cream’s Jack Bruce and Got Mule’s Allen Woody.
One gets the impression Duarte likes to work quickly and not mar his material with over-production. The songs have a live feel and by cranking his amps to 11, Chris gets the opportunity to go all out with guns a blazing.
If you’re going to do a shuffle, it’s best to bring your best game face and Duarte does just that in “Another Man” with him whipping out his best Stevie licks. A formula that continues in “Make Me Feel So Right” with the rhythm section charging at full gallop behind Duarte’s guitar acrobatics that slather themselves in Lone Star badness.
More often than not, it seems Vaughan’s influence exerts a stronger hold than the Hendrix one. The six string swaths Duarte unleashes in “Bottle Blues” harken back to Vaughan’s explosive debut Texas Flood. Duarte just fans the flames as he shreds blues licks putting him in the leagues with the Walter Trout’s and the Gary Moore’s of the world.
Though gaining FM radio airplay seems to have been the furthest thing from his mind, Chris does seem to be hankering for that in “Milwaukee Blues” letting his rhythm work come to the forefront to set up a dancing groove to cut through the testosterone.
If you own any of Chris’ previous releases this is the kind of format he follows. The credo of “If It Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It,” seems the philosophy he follows. It’s worked pretty well in his career thus far. And he probably sees no reason to change it.
It’s not still the six track “Summer Child” that Duarte transcends the Hendrix spirit as it takes on an ethereal air with Chris crafting uncluttered solos amidst the subtle sturdy background of his rhythm section.
Just when you think the arrow can’t go any further right on the meter, Chris seems poised on the brink with making his Marshall amps explode as he rocks his way through sonic blaster “Searching For You.” Though the following cut “Black Clouds Rolling” slows things down a tad, it’s a blues that rocks with enough venom to coat a pair of rattlesnake boots. Duarte just reaches into his trick bag to unleash a torrential downpour of notes with the obvious nods that can make him the next guitar hero.
And for synthesizing a Stones and Beatles aura, look no further than “I’ve Been A Fool” where if you listen with a keen ear, you can catch some familiar licks if you know your songbooks well enough. The finest moment is saved for “Prairie Jelly” which guarantees itself as a concert favorite. Played with the ornery spirit of Cream, the recklessness of Govt Mule and no holds- barred abandon of the Jimi Hendrix Experience, the song screams power trio in more ways than one. Duarte’s John McLaughlin like leads just propel this tune along as it careens, crashes and speeds on a musical juggernaut with Watson and Haggerty attempting to play better than the masters they emulate.
If there is any musician worthy to play on the Jimi Hendrix Tribute Tour, then the honor belongs to Chris Duarte who is his own Voodoo Chile.
Reviewer Gary Weeks is a contributing writer. He resides in Marietta, GA.