Big Papa and the TCB
Inland Blue Records
I first heard this band at the now closed restaurant and seafood Shop in Redlands, California. This was my regular stop every trip to Redlands, which was a frequent event in my life for over four years. I had heard a couple of piano players there, but one day this band starts setting and they began to swing and bop and make some great sounds. I picked up their homemade CD and I have been on their mailing list since that first day I saw them. I saw them one more time, but being a Socal, Inland Empire fixture with my business there now complete I figured I probably would not run into them again soon.
Well, the CD came in the mail for review and I immediately knew who these guys were. Think a slightly stripped down version of Roomful of Blues with a little West Coast flair and you have Big Papa and the TCB, Chris Thayer fronts the band, plays guitar and wrote all or part of all but one track. He’s got a great presence and his vocals really sell each cut. Steve Brown on bass, Ray Wilson on drums, John Mila De La Roca on piano, Maurice Oliva on sax, and Marques Crew in trumpet really deliver a tight and solid sound; I love these guys!
Tracks like “A Lil Bit O’ Somethin’” showcase each artist as they jump and swing. The solos are great, their “togetherness” is impressive and they just make you want to dance. “Papa’s in the House” opens the album and serves as a great intro to these guys; the call and response, vocals and solos showcase the great talents here. Very T-Bone Walker-like stuff, yet fresh and cool. “Drink Drank Drunk” bemoans a bad night on the town that ends in the slammer, but it’s a fun ride; the sax on this cut is really sweet. “Big Bad Blues” adds a trombone to the horns and they just blow a big and groovy sound, more great solos all over the place! “My Way Back Home” closes; very scaled down with just vocals, piano and cupped trumpet. Quite moving. “Showtime” has the boys in an all-out instrumental, no holds barred– superb! The one cover is Honey Piazza’s “Murder in the First Degree” and they take the Mighty Flyers song and make it their own– great cover!
If you like jump blues then go buy this CD. The horns are great, the piano is outstanding, the guitar is spectacular and the vocals are superb. You won’t regret “discovering” this band!
Reviewed by Steve Jones