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Curtis Salgado - Soul Shot

Alligator Records

11 tracks/46:41

There are few singers who who have had a career that approaches the scope of Curtis Salgado's illustrious track record. As the front man for his band, the Nighthawks, he was the toast of the music scene in the Northwest in the early part of the '70s. Curtis then teamed up with Robert Cray in a powerhouse aggregation that impressed actor John Belushi, who based his Blues Brothers act on everything he learned from Salgado about blues music. Later Salgado spent two years with Roomful of Blues before he returned to Eugene, OR, where he once again dominate the clubs with his band, the Stilettos. Tours with Santana and Steve Miller kept Salgado's name in the lights along with a series of excellent recordings under his name.

Several major health issues that included a liver transplant severely curtailed Salgado's career. Once he had regained his health, he celebrated his return in 2008 with the exceptional album Clean Getaway. Perhaps the best indicator of Salgado's skill as a singer is his nomination over the last four years for the Blues Music award for Soul Blues Male Artist of the Year, which he won in 2010 and this year.

His first release on Alligator Records is a career-defining moment that leaves no doubt that Salgado is a singer extraordinaire. With expert backing by the Phantom Blues Band – Tony Braunagel on drums, Johnny Lee Schell on guitars, Mike Finnigan on organ, Larry Fulcher on bass and Jim Pugh on piano – Salgado covers the gamut of human emotion, ranging from the depths of despair to the passionate embrace of love.

“What You Gonna Do?” is bursting with energy, making it a perfect start to the program. From there, you get one highlight after another. Slagado's voice soars on the opening of “Let Me Make Love to You” and then he utilizes his vocal strength to make his desires known. The horns – Joe Sublett on sax and Darrell Leonard on trumpet- push Salgado on George Clinton's funky “Gettin' To Know You”. Another cover, Johnny Watson's “Strung Out”, is a ballad with Salgado eloquently expressing the emotions of a man deep in the throes of love with Franck Goldwasser on lead guitar.

Salgado had a hand in writing “Love Comfort Zone”, which has another great horn chart that underscores Salgado's stirring vocal. On “Nobody But You”, he emphatically testifies about the strength gained from the love of a woman on a track written by Charlie Hodges that harks back to the glory days of Hi Records. “He Played His Harmonica” establishes a deep groove, giving the leader the leader an opportunity to show that “..he was as bad as Al Capone, on the Windy City saxophone.” Salgado fares well on Otis Redding's “Love Man” before demonstrating the full extent of his vocal range on “Baby, Let Me Take You in My Arms.” Salgado adds some upper register harp tones over the darker tone of another original, “She Didn't Cut Me Loose”, with producer Marlon McLain on guitar.

The closing number, “A Woman or the Blues”,burns with gospel intensity as Salgado fervently outlines the choice a that a man sometimes faces. He gets outstanding help from Margaret Linn, LaRhonda Steele and Sean Howard on backing vocals. It is a fitting close to what is undoubtedly the crowning achievement to date in Salgado's career to date. His immaculate phrasing and breathtaking tone plus the superb supporting cast make this a not-to-be missed disc – highly recommended!

Reviewer Mark Thompson retired after twelve years as president of the Crossroads Blues Society in Rockford. IL. and moved to Florida. He has been listening to music of all kinds for over fifty years. Favorite musicians include Howlin' Wolf, Muddy Waters, Little Walter, Magic Slim, Magic Sam, Charles Mingus and Count Basie.

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