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Sam Henry - Treme’ Soul: New Orleans Gumbo

Bismeaux Records

10 tracks

Hot stuff! Another gem I did not expect to find. I must admit I did not know who Sam Henry was before I heard this CD. Long time keyboard artist, composer and arranger who was displaced form the Ninth Ward by Hurricane Katrina, Henry wound up in Texas as did many others. Befriended by Asleep at the Wheels’ Ray Benson, Henry wound up at Benson’s Bismeaux Studio in Austin with New Orleans stalwarts Dr. John, Cyril Neville, Gary Brown (an original Soul Machine member) and producer Jaybo Hopkins to cut an album of blues and jazz with Benson and others from Bismeaux and Austin. The result is a wonderful and funky set of ten great tracks!

The CD opens to the intro of the Beatle’s “Come Together” which diffuses into Dylan’s “Gotta Serve Someone”. This is a funky track with a driving, syncopated beat. I loved the vocal interplays along with all the backing keyboard sounds. The traditional instrumental sounds of “Doodlin” are a jazzy change from the opening track with some great horn soloing by Gary Brown and B3 work by Henry. “New Orleans Cookin” is a Crescent Cit standard and Cyril Neville steps up nicely fronting this track. Back to instrumental jazz with “Coffee Pot” ; Henry shows his stuff on keys again and Brown fills in some later solos of import. Gary Brown next serves up his own “Love Can Be: Love Party”, a funky and soulful track with a great dance beat.

“Next Time You See Me” is more horn and organ instrumentals in this peppy and spicy James Booker song. Then the band gets really old school with a Jonny Mercer crooner tune- “I’ll Be Around”. Ray Benson does an outstanding cover and really is superb on vocals. “Just Kissed My Baby” changes directions with a funky and greasy guitar-organ-sax number that is quite fine. Henry’s calypso like “Island Breeze” comes complete with steel drums (Leon Thomas “Foster”) and made me crave a big glass full of pina colada while listening. Alto sax fills in with a great solo by Brown around the steel drum and then we get some nice vibes to complete the sound. The CD closes with the classic “Smooth” instrumental full of great horn play.

The gumbo was slinging around hot and spicy in this one! I really loved it and anyone who is a New Orleans funky blues and jazz fan will, too. Most highly recommended- this is one of the better CDs released in late 2010! Hurricanes make for strange but delightful bed fellows!!!

Reviewer Steve Jones is secretary of the Crossroads Blues Society in Rockford, IL.

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