Sweet Records SRCD-008
12 songs – 51 minutes
Even though this is the debut release for Quique Gomez, the Spanish-born vocalist/harmonica player is no stranger to fans on both sides of the Atlantic, having worked with several top bluesmen and traveling the world since first visiting Chicago. He delivers a set of Windy City-flavored blues here in an album recorded in his hometown of Madrid but mastered by Kid Andersen at Greaseland Studios in California.
Now in his early 40s, Gomez began playing harp at age 18 and migrated to the Windy City for the first time in 2008, quickly establishing himself. He’s toured with a who’s who of talent, including Chicagoans John Primer, Eddie C. Campbell, Jimmy Burns, Taildragger and Rockin’ Johnny Burgin as well as Canadian keyboard player Kenny “Blues Boss” Wayne.
Quique’s no stranger to the recording studio, having served as a sideman on about a dozen CDs, and he works frequently with Italian guitarist Luca Giordano, often joining him to back Stateside musicians during European tours. The pair have collaborated on two releases, Dead Mama Blues, recorded in Italy in 2009, and 3011 Studio Sessions, captured in Chicago in 2012. And he paired with Brazilian guitarist Netto Rockefeller on another album, Bahia Times, two years later.
He’s an excellent harp player in the Chicago tradition, and possesses a clear, strong baritone voice. He’s joined here by his regular band, The Vipers: Curro Serrano and Pablo Sanpa on guitars, Hector Rojo on bass and Guillaume Destarac on drums with Javier Diaz sitting in on keyboards for three of the 12 cuts, all of which are covers of blues, jazz and soul standards.
An uptempo harp introduction kicks off Roy Brown’s “Good Rockin’ Tonight.” It swings from the jump and gives the guitars plenty of space to rip and run on the mid-tune solo before Quique’s harmonica drives things to the finish. Written by Willie Dixon and recorded famously by Little Walter, “Too Late” is up next with Gomez faithful to the original in the opening bars atop a racing rhythm pattern. A stellar guitar solo makes this one shine, and Quique adds an original solo of his own.
He delves into the Gulf Coast next for an updated, uptempo take on Slim Harpo’s “I’m Gonna Keep What I’ve Got” before returning to the Windy City for a strong slow-blues version of Jimmy Rogers’ “Gold Tailed Bird,” on which the guitars come to the fore again with Gomez providing rhythm and fills. Next up is “Sugar Ray.” Written by Babs Gonzales, the bebop-era jazz vocalist born Lee Brown, and made popular by Dizzy Gillespie, it puts Quique’s chromatic skills on display with sophisticated runs.
“Sloppy Drunk,” written by Lucille Bogan, gets a faithful treatment before a take on Jimmy Witherspoon’s “Times Getting Tougher Than Tough,” which would leave the ’50s superstar smiling. Marvin Gaye’s “How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)” gets a full-on blues overhaul next. The musicianship will make you forget that Gomez’s Spanish accent slightly creeps into the vocals on both numbers.
“It’s Too Late Brother,” written by Al Duncan, one of the most important, yet overlooked, sessions drummers in the golden era of Chicago blues, follows before takes on Muddy Waters’ “Honey Bee,” Memphis Minnie’s “What’s The Matter With The Mill” and Sonny Boy Williamson I’s “Wonderful Time” bring the action to a close.
Dealin’ With The Blues is a rock-solid debut that’s available direct through www.sweetrecordslabel.com. It will be interesting to hear what Quique does next. An album with Rockin’ Johnny is currently in the planning stages.