Stony Plain 2014
11 tracks; 38 minutes
American pianist Kenny ‘Blues Boss’ Wayne has lived in Canada for 30 years and on his second release on Stony Plain, Kenny follows a similar pattern to 2011’s “An Old Rock On A Roll”, offering eleven originals covering a range of styles from boogie woogie to blues and soul. Kenny handles piano and vocals with Loren Etkin on drums, Russell Jackson on bass and either Tim Hearsey or producer Tom Lavin on guitar. Vince Mai on trumpet and Jerry Cook on sax add horns to four tracks, Drew Davies playing tenor on one track. The following appear on one track each: Wes Mackey and Lindsay Mitchell on guitar, Ron Thompson on banjo, Sherman Doucette on harmonica. Backing vocals on two tracks come from Sibel Thraser, Cecile Larochelle and Christine Best. Guest spots come from Diunna Greenleaf on vocals and Eric Bibb on guitar and vocals.
Opener “Leavin’ In The Morning” has a catchy shuffle groove and some nice BB King-style guitar from Tom. Kenny follows some traditional blues lyrics on a tale of getting away from a bad situation, heading off “Somewhere nobody knows me, nobody knows my name”. The horns give some additional power to “You Bring The Jungle Out Of Me” though the contrived monkey howls could have been left out! In terms of sequencing it is unfortunate that the underlying tune is so similar to the first cut, especially when there is so much variety across the CD. A spoken introduction explains how the word ‘Hootenanny’ was used for piano jams in 1930’s Kansas City before Kenny gives us his version of that, complete with Ron Thompson’s banjo behind the piano on the foot-tapping “Hootenanny Boogie-Woogie. Kenny’s piano and Tim’s guitar both feature strongly on the impressive “Roadrunner”, Kenny’s fine vocals explaining the life of the itinerant musician who “needs that fresh air”. Diunna Greenleaf adds her great voice to “Baby, It Ain’t You”, references to ‘text me’ showing that you can write a slow blues with a modern twist. “I Can’t Believe It” is another excellent track with the horns again in action on an upbeat, soulful song in which Kenny explains how he had his wallet stolen getting on a train: “I can’t believe it, that thief has got it. I can’t believe it, got to live without it.”!
“Two Sides” is a catchy boogie on which Kenny’s rolling piano plays the first verse before the band comes in on verse two and Eric Bibb plays some funky acoustic guitar in the middle as well as adding duet vocals. “Slow Down” gives us another style with an acoustic approach, the horns and harp adding some gentle harmony touches on the chorus. “Ogopogo Boogie” is an instrumental with a New Orleans feel, the horns shouting out the refrain and Kenny’s piano sitting beneath the refrain until he emerges for a fine boogie solo. Kenny is back at the mike for “Keep On Rockin’”, another toe-tapper with lots of piano featured, the lyrics explaining how Kenny intends to keep his career going “until the time is up”. Drew Davies’ tenor adds some colour to the short track. The final cut is “Out Like A Bullet”, another boogie instrumental with just Kenny’s piano and drummer Loren which again demonstrates what a fine player he is.
This is an enjoyable and varied album. This album is well worth a listen.