Rick Keene Music Scene – Gino Vannelli Shines Brightly on New Album

Sometimes – it is worth the wait.

Gino Vannelli ( Montreal’s wayward son) made a rule when he was younger. ‘Never put out music without a purpose …’

That is the reason why it has been over ten years since music fans heard something new from Vannelli. Wilderness Road is the name of the new record and it is a mark of beauty. It is a different sounding Gino yet it still sounds like Gino …

” Well … I can’t sound different …” Laughs Vannelli. ” I am who I am and my style and voice remain the same.”

Wilderness Road is a Bluesy / Americana – themed album and it is exactly the type of recording Gino wanted to do.

” I did not want to do a Jazz or Classical album or anything I had done before. I wanted to explore the rootsy side of things with the focus on storytelling. I had about forty songs written and the ones on the album are the best stories. All the songs were written in the last five years.”

The disc may be ‘ rootsy’ with elements of Blues and Jazz but Gino’s keen ear for perfection and production are what make Wilderness Road a typical Vannelli recording. That unique talent is what made Herb Alpert ( co- founder of A&M Records) sign Gino in the first place. A signature sound which eventually led to twenty million records sold worldwide.

” It is not so much as audio perfection.” Says Gino. ” It is getting an authentic sound. A real sound which comes from the soul. That is what I try to do in the studio.” He laughs. ” My brother Joe has something to do with it also … “

The album is part reflection. Part of an older man looking back but it is also a collection of personal stories and tales which have affected Vannelli in different ways.

The Woman Upstairs is about an abused lady who lived above my wife and I when we lived in Ahunstic. I couldn’t come up with a name for the song when it was done so I asked my wife. She said why not ‘ The Woman Upstairs …?”

Another tale is about the story of a five year old boy whose body was discovered headless. The killer was thought to be found but he was killed in an accident before he could stand trial.

The album is truly about the human condition.

” I saw this woman taking care of her husband, pushing him in a wheelchair. He had Parkinson’s disease or had a stroke.” Says Vannelli of the song Yet Something Beautiful. “I thought of all the unsung heroes in this world like this woman. The love and patience she had. We don’t hear enough stories like this”

Wilderness Road contains many ‘wistful’ ballads containing a Blues’ backdrop. A canvas which tends to arrive when Gino writes songs on guitar.

” When I am writing on my acoustic, the tendency is towards Blues and Folk. Rootsy / Americana sounding songs. Black Cars for example, was written that way but we turned it into an eighties’ sound to fit the times. The original ‘Black Cars’ could easily be on Wilderness Road – it would fit right in …”

Gino’s new album (his 20th) was not made because of a recent trend of older musicians making Blues’ records. (The Stones, Myles Goodwyn (April Wine) and Randy Bachman ( Bravebelt, The Guess Who, BTO) all have recently returned to their roots).

” I don’t know why they made these albums …” Admits Gino.

” If I had to guess I think it is because they want to ensure storytelling and their own expertise in storytelling does not fade away. I think in this day and age – the art of telling stories in songs has been lost. Some artists want to remind people before it is lost forever.”

Vannelli is in his fifth decade as a recording artist and he is not interested in ‘ fitting in’ with the trends or sounds of today.

” I just do what I feel is right. I don’t pretend or aspire to being anything different. After all these years people know who I am. I know who I am and that’s okay for me.”

Vannelli lives in Portland, Oregon and spends time jogging in the mountains to stay in shape. Once a year he gives Master Classes and it was during one of those classes he met a girl from Quebec who travelled to work with Gino. A voice which ended up on Wilderness Road …

Gino will be in Montreal April 26th and 27th.

Listen to The Long Arm of Justice Below

Get Tickets Here !

Visit Gino Here

Rick Keene Music Scene – You Want a Jazz Festival Preview?

There is a lot of talent coming to the Montreal International Jazz Festival in 2016 …

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The Festival gets underway on June 29th with Sharon Jones and The Dap Kings doing a free blow-out show to open the Festival. Jones, one of the best performers on the scene today –promises to deliver a opening showstopper for the ages.

Susie Arioli performs on July 2nd at Club Soda. On the heels of a tour to support her first album without Jordan Officer on guitar, ‘ Spring’  is a year long thing now. The show and tunes will be Susie’s coming of age …

Please enjoy my interview with Susie !

 

Lisa Simone, the daughter of Nina Simone, will be performing two shows as an opening act for Melody Gardot on June 29th and 30th at Salle Wilfrid Pelletier. Lisa, like her famous Mom – blessed with amazing vocals and a way with words. Just may be the hidden gem of the Festival !

Enjoy my interview with Lisa !

 

The stages will be busy this year ! Most of Montreal and Quebec’s top players will be on hand to ‘sing the Blues’ to anyone who will listen ! From The Paul DesLauriers Band at Metropolis to Dawn Tyler Watson at L’Astral – there is something for everyone both indoors and outdoors ! Free and Paid !

Here are some of the performers ….

Pat Loiselle

Dawn Tyler Watson

Paul DesLauriers

Adam Karch 

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Please keep coming back for all the news, reviews and interviews as part of The 37th Edition of

The Montreal International Jazz Festival !

Visit the Festival Here to Buy Tickets and Check Out The Schedule !

 

Visit The House of Jazz here !

 

Working Man Blues CD Cover

Dawn Tyler Watson – A ‘Jawbreaking’ Interview !

Montrealers know Dawn Tyler Watson. Or – do they … ? 

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Dawn Tyler – Watson has been entertaining Montrealers and Canadians for what seems like an eternity. In a good way …

Hard to believe her latest release ‘JawBreaker’ is only Dawn’s fourth solo album. Her small-ish output is not for lack of talent or opportunity, it is based on …

Please  listen below and Dawn will explain the reasons! Hear some tracks from ‘JawBreaker’ as well.

Dawn? What’s Up?

 

 

Visit Dawn Right Here !

 

 

Working Man Blues CD Cover

Dawn Tyler Watson – Experience is a ‘Jawbreaker’ ! Album Review

Montrealers know Dawn Tyler Watson very well …

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One of this city’s brightest diamonds has shone bright for a few decades. In her latest offering; ‘Jawbreaker’, Dawn exudes passion with experience.

They say practice makes perfect yet musicians are all aware, perfection is as unattainable as The Holy Grail. Perfection is the hunger which, more times than not – sustains a career.

In ‘JawBreaker’, Tyler comes close with a little help from her friends.

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On the first track, ‘Can’t Nobody’, the beacon to the shore of a grounded habited island, guitar great Paul DesLauriers lends a pick. The Rock tune heavily infused with Bluesy- soul, opens the senses and dictates this will not be ‘ just another Blues record’.
DesLauriers, the seasoned veteran – lays the juice on and off. A perfect combination – a perfect fit to Tyler’s schizophrenic ability to power through or seduce with her voice. Montrealer Patrick Lehman lends his voice for the first time on the disc and yes, JawBreaker is about to be something juicy to bite into.

Patrick Lehman, the Juno nominated ‘Soul brother from another mother’, makes another appearance on ‘Shine On’. Whatever energy DesLauriers brought in the opener,  Lehman and Watson counter with a Gospel -inspired influence. Lehman and Watson dueling in an R&B cage. Grounding the sound and creating diversity. Another Jawbreaker straight from the church. The cornerstone of Soul.

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DesLauriers

‘A Little Bit More’ makes us comfortable. Watson – the singer we all know, appears with a ballad. Sultry, no nonsense. Dawn’s true self reflects off of Ben Racine’s shadow. The entire soul searching experience framed nicely by ‘Little Frankie Thiffault’s saxophone. The tune will make your heart melt.

“Son of a Gun’ jolts the wispiness away. DesLauriers returns and duels with Racine in a Rock n’ Roll Boogie Woogie high calibre fashion. Combing Berry- type riffs with Watson’s easy vocals. No rocket science here but ‘a rocket ‘ to balance JawBreaker. A missile to the good old days of Bill Haley and The Comets.

‘Tootsie Roll Blues’ is a return to the roots. Upright bass, harmonica and a smoke-filled Jazz club in a basement. Guy Belanger (Harp) and Morgan Moore (Bass) creating an atmosphere to forget troubled times. A tune to dismiss blues while wading firmly through the Blues. Dawn-Tyler is in her element and her ease within the melancholy structure holds a lantern to the underlying darkness within.

Festiblues Ahuntsic 2010 les 40 ans de Martin Deschamps
Festiblues Ahuntsic 2010

‘I Don’t Live Here Anymore’ is the gem. Montreal legend Rob MacDonald adds acoustic and Dimitri Lebel-Alexandre instills pedal steel on a heart-breaking delivery.  The opening riff, reminiscent of the 1970 – inspired Country balladry.

A ‘Desperado’ type song which enters into Blues -y despair in a fashion which only Tyler could deliver. Watson’s haunting vocals as fresh as a teenager trying to make her break. Watson inspires on this inspirational tune while MacDonald and Alexandre ply their craft brilliantly. Wow!

‘Rotten’ is Watson and the band. It is important to mention ‘ the band’ especially the nimble-fingered John Sadowy on piano and organ. Often, the piano player – the ‘filler’ on stage, is forgotten by the audience and sometimes the singer. Sadowy, throughout JawBreaker is the saving grace. Providing Boogie Woogie, grace and ‘the meat’ to the potato salad of guests. Nicky Estor holds the beat throughout and is a solid metronome providing rolls and fills at the most important moments. Francois Dube, Estor’s better half on Bass, grounding the songwriting and allowing the ‘cats to play’. Mathieu ‘Moose’ Mousseau on Baritone Sax – balancing Little Frankie on Tenor. Both players, part of The Ben Racine Band. Racine himself, integral to the complete sound on JawBreaker.

As cheesy as the title track may suggest, ‘Smoke Meat’ is the hidden gem on the album.

Dawn Tyler Watson - Ben Racine
Dawn Tyler Watson – Ben Racine

Starting off as ‘ just another song’, suddenly – following the first verse, substance rears it’s beautiful head. Estor and Sadowy setting the Jazzy tone. An intro to a Funky jam which allows all the players to shine. Watson paying homage to Montreal’s number one food delicacy and ironically – a staple of Montreal musicians’ diets. A red-hot song to go with red hot meat!

‘Greenbacks’ and ‘I See’ are R&B and funk fan’s guilty pleasures. Once more the sax is prominent as in any good funk/ R&B tune. The horns on the album providing a feel good mentality and transporting the listener to the days before record companies ruined everything. Foot-tapping type stuff yet compared to most tracks on JawBreaker – more generic and not quite up to Watson’s creative standard.

‘Forever Young’ – the Bob Dylan tune returns the album and Watson to glory. The vocals alone, worthy of several awards. Think KD Lang singing Hallelujah. At times, Watson hitting the spine tingling moments associated with Lang. Just one of those special moments which cannot be defined. Certainly to become a fan favorite on disc and off.

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‘It Ain’t Elvis’ returns JawBreaker to generic territory. The album contains thirteen tracks and would have been more suited to ten. Adding similar sounding tracks diminishes the brilliance of the album. Watson is well know and everyone is aware of what she can do. All musicians are solid throughout yet generic can border on boredom within a complete album listening structure. Each generic track great within a playlist including different acts.

JawBreaker concludes with ‘Shine On / Rise’. A bookend for the album’s second track ‘Shine On’.  Once more – Lehman lends his backing vocals and the song is a tribal chant. An interesting way to end the disc. A statement sung with conviction by Watson and Lehman. A tease which starts to rise and disappears leaving the listener thirsty for more.

All in all – JawBreaker is a must buy album. A return of sorts by Dawn – Tyler Watson to the throne of Quebec female singers.

Ear candy if you will …

 

Visit Dawn Right Here !

Stay tuned for my Interview with Dawn !

 

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