Fabrizio Poggi and the Amazing Texas Blues Voices – Texas Blues Voices
Fabrizio Poggi is an Italian blues harp player who has released his 20th album with Texas Blues Voices. He has collected up a host of Texas blues singers and musicians to feature on this landmark CD where he showcases his harp and their skills in a mix of traditional songs, covers and songs written by the artists. Poggi plays but does not sing here: each cut features a Texan fronting his great band of players.
The backing band is tight. Bobby Mack and Joe Forlini are on electric and slide guitars. Cole El Saleh does the piano and organ work. Donnie Price is on bass while Dony Wynn is the drummer and percussionist.
Carolyn Wonderland gets thing started on the Blind Willie Johnson tune “Nobody’s Fault But Mine.” She testifies to us as she demonstrates why she is dubbed the queen of the Austin blues scene. Shelly King and Mike Cross back her vocals as Poggi wails on harp and Wonderland and Mack do some nice guitar work. Passion and power reign here; the piano and organ takes it up even one more notch of goodness. A great start to a great album! Ruthie Foster’s version of Brownie McGee’s “Walk On” follows. Forlini’s slide is impressive but it’s Ruthie’s vocals that really make this one special- she is amazing here! This is another winner to listen to with some slick harp and just a great overall sound. The guitars, keys and vocals are very well done. Mike Zito gives us his take on “Forty Days and Forty Nights,” the song Muddy Waters immortalized. Zito takes the tempo down a notch and offers up some gritty vocals and guitar to go along with Poggi’s persuasive harp. Nicely done! Zito and Poggi turn this into some sweet slow blues . W.C. Clarke takes the lead with a cut he did with Stevie Ray Vaughn and was the B side to “Hole Sound.” “Rough Edges” is a very upbeat and uptempo rocking blues with great guitar work by Clarke and Mack. Poggi, of course, delivers some stratospheric harp to make it even better. Clarke shows his chops on both guitar and vocals- well done!
Miss Lavelle White is featured on “Mississippi, My Home,” her cut about the tough times growing up and living in Mississippi.Wonderland takes the first solo and Mack the second (on slide) but White offers up some amazing vocals. Her bio reports her singing with Aretha, Bobby Bland, Otis Redding, Sam Cooke, Junior Parker, Junior Wells and Buddy Guy and I can see why they sang with her! At 88 she still has it. Poggi offers more impassioned harp to go with the fine guitar work, too, and Cole remains solidly great on keys- superb piano on this one. Bobby Mack is featured on Jimmy Hughes’ “Neighbor Neighbor” and he gets to show us what he’s made of. He’s played with so many greats and we see here why. His vocals and guitar are both fantastic here. Suave and cool, he delivers a great rendition of a song covered by Gregg Allman, the Dead, and The Spencer Davis Group. Mack does a marvelous job as Cole kills it on organ and Poggi blows some mean harp. More outstanding stuff here! Mike Cross and Karen Marie wrote “Many In Body” which Cross leads with acoustic guitar and vocals. Wonderland and King help take us to church backing Cross on this sweet Gospel tune. El-Saleh’s organ is spot on and we have Radoslav Lorovic on piano in fine support, too. Joe Folini’ s guitar is also well done as is Poggi’s harp- a gregariously fun solo that is followed by some fine slide. Cross is a super vocalist and is quite convincing in his testimonial! It is a raucous and fun song.
Shelley King sings her song “Welcome Home” and plays acoustic guitar, too. She sings with Carolyn Wonderland and has a subtle and cool vocal style. Cross and wonderland back her up and Wonderland also offers up a guitar solo. Forlino does most of the electric guitar work and Poggi mixes up some chromatic stuff with his regular harp here. King is a fantastic vocalist in her own right and I was glad to get the introduction to her here. Forlini and Cross wrote “Wishin’ Well;” it features Cross on vocals and Forlini on guitar. Joe plays some impassioned Texas styled guitar as Cross delivers some great vocals. Forlini’s guitar and Poggi’s harp spar with Cross and make for a fun ride. Big solos by Poggi and Folini are impressive here. The traditional “Run On” is a classic cut done by Elvis, Johnny Cash, Odetta and Blind Boys of Alabama. Guy Forsyth sings and plays the National Reso-Phonic and Poggi adds his harp in a slick duet that completes the album. Great passion and chops here!
I’ve heard Poggi before and was not sure what to expect. He’s got lots of really well done albums out there. Here he delivers a truly superb set of tunes by some of Texas’ finest. I loved the harp work by Fabrizio throughout- it was tasteful and poignant. The singers were all spot on and fantastic. The guitar work was impeccable. The keyboards were solid and supportive. There is nothing to complain about here. I loved this CD and blues fans can rest assured that this is an album that I think will be well received and broadly enjoyed by a broad spectrum of blues, Texas and roots music fans. Highly recommended!