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Martijn Schok Boogie & Blues Band - Let the Four Winds Blow

If you’ve seen those Amstel Light commercials on television, you probably already know that Amsterdam is a dam good city, at least according to the Amstel people--and many others around the world.  Now, thanks to the Martijn Schok Boogie and Blues Band, we are learning that Amsterdam is the home of some dam good piano boogie as well.

The Netherlands-based band, featuring leader and piano player Martijn Schok, vocalist Greta Holtrop, sax and flute player—and recording engineer—Rinus Groeneveld, drummer Maarten Kruijsijk, and stand-up bassist Sergei Shapko—who hand-crafted his own instrument, is just out with its latest release, Let the Four Winds Blow.

The 34-year old Schok is educated as a lawyer but earlier in life got addicted to piano boogie at the age of 15 in his hometown in the Netherlands.  He’s been expanding his boogie credentials ever since.  He and various bandmates—including Little Willie Littlefield--have played all the major European boogie venues in addition to gracing stages in New Orleans and Newport, among other major cities in the USA.  Now he sponsors his own annual boogie festival in Amsterdam.

Here’s what we found on Let the Four Winds Blow:

The disk kicks off with “Roll ‘em Pete,” a high energy instrumental featuring Schok on the keys and Groeneveld on the saxophone.  We get our first taste of the Billie Holiday-sounding Greta Holtrop on back-to-back Fats Domino classics, the title cut “Let the Four Winds Blow” and “Walking,” both of which will take you straight to Bourbon Street. 

An unattributed whistling solo leads into the Professor Longhair standard, “Go To the Mardi Gras,” followed by the soulful-sounding blues tear-jerker, “Cry me a River.”  The tempo then swings up nicely with “Has Anyone Seen Corrine,” a song that will remind most listeners so much of Scott Joplin that they’ll think it’s from the soundtrack of “The Sting.”  Then comes the highly danceable “Swanee River Boogie,” a solid update of the Stephens Colliins Foster rendition of the original southern classic. 

Some people left their hearts in San Francisco.  I left my wife in Kansas City, but I still like Greta’s interpretation of the Little Willie Littlefield classic.  I’ll bet she got some tips for her version of “Kansas City” from the master himself, who now calls Amsterdam home.

Most people have long forgotten that Hank Williams was anything but a country crooner, but his early hit, “Jambalaya,” lives on as a Cajun Louisiana classic, and now it’s well on it’s way to being a Dutch master thanks to the next cut on the disk.

Greta strikes up her voice again with “Women Be Wise,” a warning to all you ladies not to brag too much on your man to the girls.  Following, the listener will pass “Go” and head straight to boogie heaven with the instrumental, “Texas Stomp.”  Then comes the Harlem-sounding jazz/blues standard”I Gotta Right to Sing the Blues,” again featuring the voice of  Holtrop.  Then there’s the familiar-sounding “Flip, Flop and Fly,” a high energy ode to feeling good.

Greta takes the rest of the disk off as we gear up for four straight instruments, starting with the New Orleans piano blues instrumental “Yancey Special,” a song that begs for a Fats Domino vocal.  The first of two originals, “For Mr. Walker”—whomever he may be—flows from the pens and instruments of co-writers and bandmates Schok and Groeneveld.  “Doin’ It,” another Professor Longhair contribution, leads to the Schok original instrumental, “The Boogie Runner,” a piano boogie blow torch of a song to wrap up the disk.

If you’re a piano boogie fan, this one will wash down well with just about any adult beverage, so, two Amstel Lights up for Let the Four Winds Blow.

Reviewed By Rob Paullin

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