CD: 10 Songs; 46:26 Minutes
Styles: Traditional and Contemporary Vocal Blues, Soul-Influenced Blues
Yours truly has a theory: In the music world, today’s pop tunes are like potato chips. They may have salty language and crisp beats, not to mention a relentlessly-addicting quality. However, they leave consumers feeling hollow and hungry, even after a whole-bag binge. In contrast, the blues is steak and potatoes: nourishing food for the soul. With rich flavor and instrumentation that’s filling – not filler – New York’s Ebony Jo-Ann provides listeners a ten-course gourmet meal on her newest album. Please Save Your Love for Me is a feast for the ears, brimming with Ebony’s perfectly-seasoned vocals. Performing for over thirty years in concerts, movies, and theater, this blues chanteuse serves up nothing but the best selections. Five on this album are original entrées worthy of any film’s bill-of-fare. The others are five covered dishes sure to please at any live blues “potluck”. This is a reference-quality CD for any blues connoisseur.
Ebony Jo-Ann has a resume a mile long, full of cheers in all her spheres of entertainment. She has played at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Symphony Space, Brooklyn Academy of Music, Kennedy Center, and the Copa Cabana in NYC. Her numerous Broadway credits include August Wilson’s Gem of the Ocean and American Century, playing Ma Rainey (this reviewer’s blues namesake) in the latter. She’s also appeared in several films, most notably Grown Ups and Grown Ups 2. As for official accolades, she’s been crowned the winner of six Audelco awards and the National Action Network’s Woman Of Excellence prize in 2014.
With her on her current CD are Danny Kean on multiple instruments; Phil Bloom on drums; Tinkr on bass; Mark Bowers on lead guitar; Gerald Rampersad on tenor and alto saxophone; Forrest “Frosty” Lawson on trombones and trumpets; Mario Staiano on congas; Guy Davis on multiple instruments; Bill Easley on tenor sax; Larry Ross on upright bass; and Aziza Miller and Thuli Dumakude joining in on background vocals with other musicians previously mentioned.
The following three original songs are the tastiest offerings on this overall-scrumptious album:
Track 01: “Just Rain” – The opener sizzles with fajita-level heat, and the optimal amount of spice. “The window flew open, and the wind gushed in. The thumping in my heart said, ‘He’s back again.’ Ah, but then my senses came, and I realized it was…just rain.” The most stunning parts of this song are the incredible all-around vocals, harmonious and smooth, and Gerald Rampersad’s spectacular sax.
Track 03: “Yo Love” – Traditional blues at its finest, number three also mentions “liquid sunshine”, but in a comforting capacity: “Yo love is like a cooling summer rain…It feels so good. It never brings me pain.” With a slight ‘70’s funk vibe and a vibrant harmonica solo to savor from Danny Kean, this song is perfect for an intimate turn on the dancefloor.
Track 04: “Nosybody” – One of the best soul/blues numbers of this young year, “Nosybody” tells the unwary exactly what they are if they gorge on gossip. “You sitting on the phone, waiting for a call from someone who will tell it all. You just can’t wait to see crazy misery, with their backs against the wall…You’re just a nosybody!” Most surprising is Tinkr’s catchy bass track, multi-noted and catchier than a cold – if one listens closely and catches it.
Please Save Your Love for Me is delectable from start to finish, as are Ebony Jo-Ann’s vocals!