GONE TO TEXAS
Mike Zito & The Wheel (Ruf Records)
This is a nice, solid meat-and-potatoes solo label debut CD from Mike Zito, a singer-guitarist based in Beaumont, Texas, who has some connections to the Crescent City.
He slings anything from Texas roadhouse blues to country rock, with his very fine title track being an autobiographical story of redemption with an Allman Brothers Band influence. His musicianship is neither overly slick or excessively produced on this album, nor is it particularly risky.
But it's distinctive and has a great supporting cast, including Delbert McClinton, Susan Cowsill and Lewis Stephens, the latter of whom has played keyboards for McClinton and blues master Freddie King. Zito last year was a founding member of Royal Southern Brotherhood, along with Cyril Neville, Devon Allman, Charlie Wooton and Yonrico Scott.
Tom Kennedy (Capri Records)
Having the very talented Mike Stern sit in as your guitarist is practically a cinch for producing a cool jazz album - and this disc is no exception. But the centerpiece, of course, is ultra fab bassist Tom Kennedy.
On this, his fourth album as a band leader, Kennedy - described by Bass Player magazine as "one of the few virtuoso bassists equally comfortable on electric and acoustic" - jams some incredible solos on acoustic bass that almost defy the limits of finger dexterity.
The disc has a sound that's somewhere between traditional small combo instrumental jazz and modern jazz, with several of the songs being updated arrangements by legends such as Sonny Rollins, Duke Ellington, Cole Porter, and Dave Brubeck, with a song Stern wrote included in the mix.
Contact Tom Henry at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6079.