The B. Christopher Band – Two Rivers
Guitar One Records
B. Christopher is a studio musician who has done thousands upon thousands of TV spots with his blues music. This CD takes him to studios on both coasts with a powerhouse set of musicians to produce an album that showcases his guitar and songwriting along with their individual skills. Christopher is on lead guitar except for two tracks where Michael Powers takes the lead and also sings. E.J. “Moose” Boles fronts the band when there are vocals except for the two tracks with Powers and track 10. Eric Collier is on bass (Stu Hamm fills in on track 7) and Anton Fig is on drums (Shawn Pelton appears on tracks 9 through 11) as the back line. The keyboards are deftly handled by Bruce Katz and Andy Snitzer is on tenor sax with help on trumpet in one cut. Jerry Portnoy appears on harp on the CD, too, a veteran of many a great tour and album.
The album opens with a nice little instrumental entitled “Newbie’s Funk.” Christopher’s guitar takes us for a melodic ride with a stinging tone; the song has an very cool vibe overall. “Tried To Keep You Satisfied” opens up almost immediately with a raucous set of vocals by Boles in a jumping tune. The guitar takes the lead but piano and harp also play a big part in this one. Tenor sax enters the picture in “Sad State of Affairs,” a soulful tome about living in poverty in a one room efficiency where Boles again sings with passion. The guitar and Snitzer’s sax both offer up solos for us to enjoy. “Bit O’Butter” is a solemn and tasteful guitar instrumental that showcases Christopher’s talents with Katz and the back-line in support. Next up is “She’s Gone” where Christopher breaks out the resonator and slips and slides for us in another cool instrumental, this one solo; well done!
“It’s All Right” brings Boles back to the microphone. Katz and Snitzer get to solo in addition to Christopher in this swinging and jumping cut. “I’m Drunk” adds Kent Smith on trumpet with Snitzer arranging the horn section. Christopher solos first and then the horns punctuate the end of the solo and offer strong support throughout. Stu Hamm and the horns get to take us home. Powers fronts the band and Portnoy accompanies on harp on the big and driving rocker “Nina Come On.” The band swings and Powers and Christopher on guitar help the frenetic pace move along. Powers stings like a bee on his solo and then reprises as he takes the tune home. “Perfect Curves” features Katz in support of Christopher and the back-line on this mi-tempo guitar-heavy instrumental where Christopher shines again. Eddie Testa is featured on lead vocals on “Bye Bye,” a mid tempo blues rocker with Testa howling out the lead and Christopher replying on the guitar. “Strike Two” is the same quartet with nice solo work by both Christopher and Katz as they make the instrumental work seem so smooth, effortless and cool. “Twenty Eight Days” is next, with Powers returning to the vocals. Here he does some pretty acoustic guitar work as Christopher, Katz and Portnoy support him. A slow, acoustic blues that are soulful and rich in sound. Power’s solo is immediately followed by Portnoy who continues the “front porch” feel of the cut and gives us a bit more after Powers sings for us. Christopher give us a little taste of slide and he and Portnoy close things out. Last but not least is “It Just Hurts, a final instrumental with Christopher supported by Portnoy. A driving and forthright tempo and strident guitar play make this another winner.
This is a fine album of fantastic guitar work and showmanship. I enjoyed it all from start to finish. I was not familiar with B. Christopher prior to this and I must say he is quite the talent. His 17 years of studio work since breaking into television with “All My Children” may not have made him a household name, but he is an outstanding guitar player, songwriter and band leader. He’s got a trio of prior CDs out there, too, a mix of blues, jazz and contemporary rock. This one is all blues and it’s all good stuff.
This composer is the real deal and I think blues fans will really enjoy this album of his work- highly recommended!