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Rene Trossman – I’m On A Roll

Hold It! Records

11 tracks – 44.19 minutes

One of the real delights in reviewing music is to discover a new artist who knocks you out: no preconceptions, no previous references, this one is a genuine discovery to the listener. Rene Trossman spent some years living in Chicago and played with many of the city’s blues elite in the clubs on the South and West side of the city. He clearly absorbed a lot about the blues and has transported that knowledge to his current location in the Czech Republic. Recording with Czech musicians apart from one expat Welshman, Rene has managed to produce a CD which is authentic, classic blues and an absolute delight to the ears. Rene wrote nine of the tracks on offer here, with just two covers of artists he clearly admires: Otis Rush and Freddie King. Rene handles all guitar duties and sings with a core band of bass, drums and keys. Horns are added to seven of the originals, harmonica to two others. The aforementioned expat Welshman is Osian Roberts who plays tenor sax and contributed all the horn arrangements.The CD opens with the title track, the horns and organ underpinning the music before Rene enters with a vocal that sounds entirely authentic, the lyric suggesting that Rene is lucky in life, everything falling into his lap, even winning lottery tickets! “Down At Rosa’s” offers a tribute to that great Chicago institution, the horns again to the fore alongside piano. The lyric talks of how easy it is to fit into the jams at Rosa’s and pays tribute to Rosa herself, a long-time fixture behind the bar at the club. Rene’s guitar solo has a touch of BB King about it. The third track is a slower paced song in which Rene’s lover has left so quickly that she “Sure Left In A Hurry”. Rene’s guitar takes on an Otis Rush feel here before the horns sit out “Rules Of Attraction” in favour of harmonica on a fast shuffle.

The horns return on “This World Is In A Mess”, a mid-paced tune with a hint of “Lonely Avenue” but a contemporary lyric about Wall Street and the President’s options in financial crises. “I Still Think About You” shows Rene in a different context, a soul tune with Rene sharing the vocals with Lenka Novotná. The horns are terrific on this one, the chart showing a real affinity to the Memphis sounds of the classic soul era. Another change of style follows on “Won’t You Please Come Back To Me” where Rene’s clean guitar break sits nicely in the midst of the swinging organ and horn arrangement.

“Who Do You Think You Are” opens with Charlie Slavik’s tough harp, a jaunty number with a jazzy solo from Rene. The final original is “She Fooled Me”, a full production number with a striking horn arrangement and a world-weary vocal from Rene who “should have seen it coming a long time ago; she didn’t need my loving, just someplace to go.” The relationship has clearly run its course as she is telling him lies and bossing him about – time to move on, Rene!

The two covers round out the CD with two small band performances. Freddie King’s “Heads Up” is one of his less well known instrumentals and this version sounds close to the sound that Freddie got on those early singles. The version of Otis Rush’s “I Wonder Why” was recorded live at a club in Prague. The recording is clear and does not come across as being from a different source to the rest of the album. On this version there is a second guitarist but no bass, the organ handling the lower end of the arrangement. It is also an instrumental version of the tune which gives Rene plenty of space to show off his admiration for Otis’ style of playing.

With excellent horn arrangements, plenty of clean guitar lines and some solid original songs there is a lot to like about this CD and I recommend it wholeheartedly. It can be purchased from Rene’s website or from CD Baby.

Reviewer John Mitchell is a Blues enthusiast based in the UK. He also travels to the States most years to see live blues music and recently enjoyed the Tampa Bay Blues Festival.

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