Thursday, July 26, 2012

Still Called the Blues reviewed by Mark Thompson

Still Called the Blues
Quintus McCormick
Delmark Records
13 tracks/60:19

Singer/guitarist Quintus McCormick has been on quite a roll over the last few years. While he has been playing in clubs in Chicago for several decades including stints backing James Cotton, Otis Clay and A.C. Reed, McCormick hadn't received much acclaim in the blues community until his initial recording for Delmark Records in 2009. That title, Hey Jodie, garnered plenty of praise from the critics as well as a nomination for the title song for the 2010 Blues Blast Music award in the Song of the Year category.

On his third Delmark release, McCormick continues to mine his potent blend of blues, soul and r&b influences for a heady mix that spotlights his versatility. The title track is a gripping slice of life with an emotionally charged vocal and some nimble-fingered guitar playing from the leader plus a notable contribution from Roosevelt Purifoy on keyboards. Johnny Taylor had a hit with “Everybody Knows About My Good Thing” but McCormick offers a lusty version with an sizzling, extended guitar solo. Drummer Pete Thomas provides a memorable kick on B.B. King's “Woke Up this Morning”while John Chorney's dazzles on piano with Lovely Fuller on bass. McCormick's voice is filled with aching regret on a stunning cover of the Beatles “Oh! Darling”. Dudley Owens' tenor sax solo provides a punctuation mark. The closing number, “Old Time Rock and Roll” never quite catches fire.

What moves this one ahead of other recent releases are the seven distinctive original tunes penned by McCormick. The opener, “Gotta Go”, establishes a solid funk vamp while “That's My Baby” is a breezy love song with Jerry DiMuzio's flute echoing McCormick's wistful vocal. “Searching for Your Love” is done in a contemporary r&b vein and once again the leader's rich tone carries the day. The horn section of trumpeter Kenny Anderson, Owens and Dimuzio on baritone sax spice up “I'm in Love With You Baby” as McCormick articulates his passionate feelings for the woman tugging at his heartstrings. “What Am I Gonna Do?” sounds like one of Tyrone Davis' s hit songs.

It's hard to believe that McCormick can maintain such a high level of quality in his songwriting after three releases in three years. But the proof is here for all to hear. Expect this one to get serious consideration come awards time. But don't wait for accolades from the experts. Grab a copy and enjoy the jubilant exploration of Quintus McCormick's musical universe!

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