Douglas Avery – Take My Rider
Born in Los Angeles, Douglas Avery began his musical journey at age 5 singing in the school choir. He picked up trumpet at 8 years of age and then the flute as a teen. Avery was deep into the LA jazz scene in the 1960’s and got into the big rock bands of the era which led to his becoming lead singer in a band in high school.
Avery recorded and toured the world and also took up photography and became a renowned sports photographer. He also taught himself how to play harp in the 1970’s and was later befriended by Robbie Krieger of the Doors. He continues his love of the harp and has studied with many of the great harp players; his love of West Coast music led to this album getting started in 2019. It was finally finished in 2022 and now is released for all to enjoy.
Three covers and eleven originals showcase his songwriting skills. He recorded this with the aid of Ralph Carter who produced, engineered and mixed it and it was recorded in Ralph’s Garage in Ventura. Joining Avery are Carl Sonny Leland on piano, Frank Goldwasser on guitar, Ralph Carter on bass, bongos and organ, Johnny Morgan on drums, Aaron Liddard on sax, Jerome Harper on trombone and Simon Finch on trumpet.
He starts off with Billy Boy Arnold’s “Bad Luck Blues,” a nice little West Coast jumping blues. He blows some nice harp and there is also well done guitar work. The title track is a slower blues with a bit of a down home feel. Slide guitar and harp help make this one quite good. The band rocks out a bit on the mid tempo “Malibu Burnin’”. Wailing slide and gritty harp are featured here. “Just Keep Loving Her” is another swinging cut and romps and jumps all over. A Little Walter cut, Avery does a fine job on the harp here. “Jelly, Jelly” has a traditional, down home feel with a stripped down performance with some tasty harp and guitar.
“Blind Owl Boogie” is a big, jumping mostly instrumental cut with great harp and a superb groove. “How Long Can This Last?” follows with a slow and thoughtful opening that changes to a driving song with cool horns, piano, harp and guitar. “Leaving Trunk” is a solo cut with just Avery singing and blowing with emotion. The funk comes out in the mostly instrumental “Good To Me.” Avery does skat/rap a bit and blows some greasy chromatic harp. The guitar riff drives the cut and the horns add a nice feel. John Mayall’s “Sonny Boy, Blow!” swings nicely with piano accompaniment and lots of savory harp work.
“Safety First” is a nice West Coast blues tune with piano and horn merges Blind Willie McTell and Big Joe Turner into a cool an Avery musical concoction. A stinging guitar solo is also offered up. Avery takes us to the Delta on “ Riding With The Devil,” featuring some great dobro along with his harp. It’s a slick instrumental where he sings a little for punctuation. Avery introduces his flute on “Green Wave,” a heady and jazzy instrumental piece. Avery concludes with “Looking Over A Rainbow,” a thoughtful ballad with simple piano accompaniment. Nicely done.
Avery sings with an interesting breathiness. His harp work is great and the supporting musicians do a stellar job. This is a nice blues album mixing West Coast and traditional blues sounds and a lot more into a fine album that I enjoyed listening to.