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Garrett “Big G” Jacobson - In Person


8 tracks/43:58

Billed as Oklahoma's favorite working blues musician, the fourth release from Garrett “Big G” Jacobson finds the guitarist fronting his band in a live performance last year at the University of Central Oklahoma Jazz Lab. Jacobson is a strong vocalist and a impressive guitar player, often adopting a tone that reminds you of early B.B.King. His fluid style is highlighted in each solo as Jacobson takes his time, refusing to overplay. Whether he is playing sharp, single note runs or rapid-fire staccato licks, Jacobson always plays with a discriminating tastefulness.

His robust band provides plenty of muscular backing. The rhythm section features Harold Jefferson on guitar, Vernon King on bass and Walter Taylor on drums. Jeremy Thomas fills space in the arrangements on the organ while Zachery Lee on trombone and Clint Rohr on trumpet add a brassy edge to the proceedings.

Jacobson works the area where soul and blues convene, like the earnest rendition of Little Milton's “How Could You Do It To Me” or the lone original, “That Funky Thing”, that finds the leader operating in James Brown territory. This track could have hit harder if the horns weren't buried in the mix. The opening cut, “Spring”, has the horn section out front, where they provide excellent support for Jacobson's robust vocal. The band establishes the requisite deep groove on a straight-forward version of “Shakey Ground”.

King delivers a thick walking bass line that drives the lively run-through of “I'd Rather Drink Muddy Water”. Jacobson favors a faster-than-usual pace on “Don't Burn Down the Bridge”, which he uses to spark an impressive solo before the band settles into a funk workout that has the horns playing off the the leader's guitar. Thomas gets a chance to show off his talent on the organ on an otherwise unremarkable “Georgia on My Mind”. The set closes with a robust take of “Every Day I Have The Blues”, that has Lee blowing a hot trombone solo and Jacobson finishing things off with a restrained solo that steadily builds to a spirited conclusion.

There is plenty to enjoy on this release, which makes it clear that you would get plenty of value for your entertainment dollars if you catch this band live. At the same time, the disc loses some of it's impetus due to comparisons to better-known versions of the mostly familiar set-list. That said, Jacobson's captivating singing and sleek guitar work are enough to make this one worth a listen

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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