Jools Holland releases 'Swinging the Blues, Dancing the Ska',
New Album Released November 7 2005 On Radar
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Jools Holland releases 'Swinging the Blues, Dancing the Ska', the sound of twenty men and women swinging and his tenth album for Warner Music with his extraordinary Rhythm & Blues Orchestra, on the 7 November 2005. The only big band in the world to play blues and ska, this album presents an eclectic mix of 21 tracks. SWINGING THE BLUES, DANCING THE SKA, shows Jools and his orchestra playing some great standards and self-penned pieces of music. The Orchestra is a vehicle for Jools's writing and also for the great soloists in the band, like reggae legends Rico Rodriguez and Michael "Bammi" Rose who add an authentic Jamaican sound. The Orchestra first started with Squeeze drummer Gilson Lavis, in the early 90's and has blossomed into one of the only full time big bands regularly performing, recording and selling records throughout the world. A lot of the material on this record is taken from the work they do live, which to many of the fans is their best.
"By using the traditional big band configuration of five saxophones, four trombones and three trumpets combined with a rock 'n roll rhythm section of bass, guitar, organ, drums and piano, we re-invent some of the old master works of swing and breathe life into new compositions" comments Holland.
The opening track is by one of Jools's big band heroes, Count Basie. 'Mr Robert's Roost' captures Jools and his formidable orchestra and the musical conversation that takes place between the band and Jools's piano. Later in the album they re-visit Count Basie with 'Sent For You Yesterday'.
Sam Brown brilliantly performs the angular 'Juicehead Blues'. The original was by Dinah Washington and featured Charles Mingus in a small band arrangement. Jools and his Orchestra enlarge and excite this piece.
'Feeling Fine', 'Riffin With The Griffin' and 'Dancing Mood' all capture the big band playing ska music and 'Be My Guest' is their tribute to New Orleans music and how it influenced Jamaica.
'Seven Acts of Mercy' was written with Jools and his longstanding co-writer, Sam Brown. In the past they have written for Paul Rogers, Dionne Warwick, Nick Cave. Here Sam takes the lead vocals on their own song. The Orchestra were performing a show in Amsterdam and Jools and Sam decided to write whilst they were there. The Seven Acts of Mercy was written after seeing the paintings by Michael Sweerts, the Master of Alkamaar of the same title in the Rijksmuseum.
'Something's Going On' was written by the pair at the same time. The first half of the song is just piano, voice and drums and you can hear the silent anticipation of the rest of the Orchestra waiting to come in for the second half.
'Blowing In The Wind' and 'My Country Man' are the two songs that feature the other full time vocalist with the Orchestra, the amazing Ruby Turner. It is not the first time that a credible blues and Gospel artist has covered a Bob Dylan song and made it into something new. Lisa Graham executes the brilliant saxophone solo. 'My Country Man' shows Ruby at her blues hollering best.
The other special guest on the record is Solomon Burke, the king of soul. He has co-written before with Jools and on this album they have created 'Roll This Soul Tonight', a boogie dance, excitement and treat. Jools and the Orchestra are also very proud to record a new version of 'Everybody Needs Somebody To Love', although originally written and performed by Solomon it is probably better known as being featured in the Blues Brothers film. Here it is returned to its originator.
There is also a beautiful one off collaboration with Beverley Knight of a song which Jools and Beverley co-wrote, 'Where In The World'. She is one of the great new voices and brings a fantastic different dynamic to the Orchestra.
"Words are blunt instruments that we keep beating each other over the head with" says Jools Holland, which is why there are a number of instrumentals on this record. 'After Hours' is a blues anthem, 'Sixth Avenue Express' sees the band orchestrating a piano duet of Pete Johnson and Albert Aammons. 'Double O Boogie' is written by Jools and like 'Sixth Avenue Express', shows off his devastating left hand. The dark and mysterious 'Casbah Blues' by Woody Herman, was a welcome suggestion from Van Morrison, a long-standing Woody Herman fan.
Jools was inspired to cover 'Just One More Time' after hearing Lowell Fulson's brilliant take on it, and it's an opportunity to show off guitarist Mark Flanagan's skills. BB King told Jools that the man he always listened to was T-Bone Walker. The band do their own take on his 'You Don't Love Me'.
The album closes with 'We Shed A Tear' a touching but upbeat tribute to anyone who has passed away.