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Sabrina Weeks & Swing Cat Bounce - Tales from Lenny’s Diner

Swing Cat Bounce (Canada)

11 tracks - Total time: 42:06

British Columbia’s Sabrina Weeks & Swing Cat Bounce give in Tales from Lenny’s Diner a CD that is elegant, suave and sophisticated as it felicitously romps through jump blues/boogie, city blues, jazz, B.B. King-style bluesy swing, and comes to a delightful denouement with two tracks of contemporary soul and funk styling. Sabrina Weeks has a beautiful voice that is both masterful in technique as well as effectively emotive over a considerable range of feelings, from soft love to breathless passion, from gentleness to anger and assertive determination—all the time kept by Weeks under complete artistic control. She is a fine chanteuse indeed. In her band, Stray Cat Bounce, she is joined by four musicians who each possess thirty years’ solid experience in pop genres, whose expertise fully matches and complements hers. Lead guitarist Mike Hilliard is highly versatile and fluidly proficient both in support and on solos, completely at home in city blues, B.B. King-style blues, lacy jazz, and hard-rockin’ funk, ably assisted by the rhythm section of Bill White, rhythm guitar; Ken Sells, bass; and Ed Hilliard, drums. Additional music support’s provided by judicious use of the horn section of Jerry Cook on saxophones and Vince Mai on trumpet; Linda Kidder, background vocal chorus; Dave Webb on both accompanying and solo piano and organ; and Ken Burke and Jack Lavin, percussion. The East Barnaby Senior Men’s Choir provides choral support and call-and-response on the last two tracks.

Ten of the 11 tracks are co-written by Sabrina Weeks and Mike Hilliard, and possess strongly original and expressive lyrics that are exploratory both in themes and in metaphor/imagery. While the usual themes of romance are touched on fairly conventionally in some of the songs, others explore newer, more uncharted territory. “Bad Boys,” track 5, is a city blues that tells of the relationship of a loveable boob who irritates his woman, then makes it right, as summed up by the refrain, “That’s how bad boys keep your heart.” “Detour,” track 6, is a city blues about a much different kind of bad man, and is the tale of a determined woman finally leaving a physically abusive relationship; while funk-rock “Independent Woman,” track 11, is a feminist manifesto of a woman who was once under a man’s thumb, but won’t allow that with her current man. “Wrath of Mom,” track 9, tells of another side of domestic life, that of the Mommy who’s at the breaking point with her children, and draws amply on Star Wars imagery to emphasize both her frustration and her regaining control, with these driven home musically by a fast, churning, insistent, blues-rock arrangement.

The sole cover, Etta James’s “Something’s Got a Hold on Me,” track 3, while adhering to the basic gospel-inflected call-and-response of the original, does so against an understated musical backdrop provided by the horns and rhythm section, with Jerry Cook punctuating with baritone sax notes and Linda Kidder providing vivid choral response. Tracks 4 and 8, “Thinkin’ of You’ and “All That Love,” respectively, are contemporary jazz ballads about—what else?—strong romantic love; while “Ain’t My Time to Sing the Blues,” track 7, is a B.B. King-style blues swing ably led by the horn section, with felicitous, excellently-phrased being-on-Cloud-Nine lyrics that the King of the Blues himself would be proud to sing. Track 2, “Fingers in My Pocket,” is a city blues of rueful regret built around having and lacking money whose musical foundation is the “High Heel Sneakers” riff. “Spend a Little Time,” track 10, is a contemporary soul number of making time for loving despite other commitments, while the opening track, “Boogie Downtown,” is horn-driven jump blues with guitar and piano solos about being the house band for a fun but poorly-attended gig. Mike Hilliard appears on guitar solos throughout, Dave Webb having a piano solo on “Wrath of Mom” and an organ solo on “Ain’t My Time to Sing the Blues.” Jerry Cook provides a tenor sax solo on “Spend a Little Time,” as well as tenor and baritone sax accents elsewhere, and joins with Vince Mai’s trumpet to create the horn section riffs. All this making Tales from Lenny’s Diner another fine showcase for Canadian blues, this time from the far western end”

Reviewer George "Blues Fin Tuna" Fish hails from Indianapolis, Indiana, home of blues legends Yank Rachell and Leroy Carr. He has written a regular music column for several years. He wrote the liner notes for Yank Rachell’s Delmark album, Chicago Style. He has been a blues and pop music contributor for the left-wing press as well, and has appeared in Against the Current and Socialism and Democracy.

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