CD: 9 songs; 33:45 Minutes
Styles: Ensemble Blues, Jazz-and-Soul-Influenced Blues
When it comes to blues artists, some are renowned for their studio albums and others for their in-person performances. A clear example of the latter case is Buffalo’s Patti Parks, who complains about a “Cheat’n Man” on her 2013 debut release. With a title reminiscent of Chick-fil-A’s “EAT MOR CHIKIN” slogan, it contains nine original songs perfect for live venues. Even its length, at just over thirty minutes, is just right for an outdoor blues festival time slot.
Fans of ensemble, horn-based music will go gaga over the extensive talent here, with no less than seventeen musicians listed as contributors – including Patti on vocals. On her website, under the tab “The Patti Parks Band,” organist/pianist Guy Nirelli, baritone sax player Paul Vanacore, and trumpeter Gerry Youngman are officially listed. Some might quibble over whether this CD is actually blues or jazz, but when a crowd’s having a good time, fights regarding genre dissipate. Fans of the Laurie Morvan Band might also notice similarities between Patti and their ‘fave femme’. Both are tall blondes with shapely legs and husky, above-average vocals. The following three songs, written by Guy Nirelli as producer as well as musician, will mesmerize many:
Track 03: “Back Off” – Patti may be from New York, but this track is pure Chicago blues. With an infectious refrain by Sam Guarino, Carol Jean Swist, and Pete Holguin, it’s certain to get audiences singing along. “Whenever we’re together you say I must change, but when I’m with you, baby, you are the one to blame,” Parks points out. Such a song is about a woman who needs her space, but rest assured that soloist Charles Buffamonte’s hot guitar riff doesn’t “Back Off”.
Track 04: “It Ain’t Right” – Slowing things down a bit is the next selection, a smoldering song about a neglectful partner’s classic sense of entitlement: “You came home last night; you smelled of smoke and booze. How long can this go on before I lose my cool? Oh, it ain’t right, baby…” Carol Jean Swist takes a powerful turn on piano here, alongside drummer Pete Holguin and guest guitarist Buffamonte. The best part, however, is Parks’ feisty monologue in the middle.
Track 08: “What I Had to Be” – This autobiographical hit should have been song number nine, because it’s one heck of a dynamic closer. “When I was young, I used to listen to the radio. My parents played their music; I just loved it so. You know, it felt so good. Something happened to me. That music moved my soul – it just set me free, and I knew then what I had to be.” Guest stars are Nick Veltri on Fender bass, guitarist John Riggi, drummer Gary Mallaber, Bob Miers on trombone, and Nick Salamone on tenor sax.
Straight from hot-as-chicken-wings Buffalo, Patti Parks and her “Cheat’n Man” cheerfully invite one to ‘HEAR MOR ENSEMBLE BLUES’!