David Vest – Self-Titled
Cordova Bay Records/MAPL/FACTOR Canada
CD: 10 Songs, 38:53 Minutes
Styles: Piano Blues, Jazz-and-Soul-Influenced Blues
If I were to give Canadian David Vest’s newest CD a title other than its eponymous one, it would be Ten Monologues in Black and White. That would tell listeners two things: the number of tracks on the album (eight originals and two covers), and a subtle clue that they all consist of piano blues/jazz. Moreover, it would also describe Vest’s vocal style. He soliloquizes, as if on stage in front of thousands instead of sequestered in a studio. Only one of his offerings sounds like traditional blues (“Renoviction Man”). The others are pleasant to listen to and interesting to ponder. This is definitely a soundtrack for a dark and stormy night at home, lit candles all around. Vest is a dynamite performer, especially on eighty-eight keys, but his tunes aren’t fit for rowdy bars.
According to his website, David’s been a member of the jazz and blues scene for more than fifty years. Born in Huntsville, AL in 1943, David grew up in Birmingham near Tuxedo Junction. He played his first paying gig in 1957. By the time he opened for Roy Orbison on New Year’s Day of 1962, he was a seasoned veteran of Gulf Coast roadhouses and honky-tonks. At the age of seventeen, David went on tour with Jerry Woodard and the Esquires, some of whom later became key members of the Muscle Shoals Swampers. He jammed with Ace Cannon, Bill Black’s Combo and the Jimmy Dorsey Band in clubs along the Florida Panhandle, where fellow Alabaman James Harman would soon make his mark.
Alongside Vest are co-performers Billy Hicks on drums; Ryan Tandy on upright bass; and Tom Bowler and Peter Dammann on guitar.
The following three songs are the most intriguing, whether lyrically, instrumentally or both.
Track 01: “Some Old Lonesome Day” – The perfect fusion of jazz and blues ensues in this CD’s opener. “Some old lonesome day, you’ll think of me. Some old lonesome day, just you wait and see. You’ll sit and cry; you’ll wonder why. You threw my love away some old lonesome day.” Vest absolutely kills it on piano, but that’s not the sole highlight. Ryan Tandy’s upright bass is the quintessence of the instrument, providing a slightly-menacing atmosphere to the proceedings.
Track 03: “Party in the Room Next Door” – Paying homage to tunes such as “Splish Splash” and “If The House is a Rockin’ (Don’t Bother Knockin’”), the narrator in this bouncy boogie-woogie is trying to get some shuteye and failing miserably. “I’m under the covers with the pillows up over my head, but they’re jumping up and down next door, just a-shaking my bed. Might as well join the party – my face is turning red.” Tongue-in-cheek ‘50s-style guitar makes this song sizzle.
Track 09: “Renoviction Man” – “Renovation” can be a landlord’s code word for “we’re trying to get the riffraff out to make this place more upscale.” What’s our narrator’s take on this? He’s clearly on the side of the homeowners/renters: “I hope a big bag of money fall out of the sky, hit you on the head right before you die, Renoviction Man!” With a classic blues- stomp rhythm and growling guitar, blues purists will give knowing nods of recognition.
David Vest demonstrates that he knows how to make a piano play the blues and then some!