Gaetano Letizia – Resurrection
Tom Letizia Records
14 songs – 56 minutes
The 10th album from Cleveland-based guitarist, singer and songwriter, Gaetano Letizia, is a collection of 14 self-penned tracks that successfully mixes together blues, jazz, rock, pop and even some reggae and Latin styles. The liner notes state that “this is a creative resurrection of that wonderful time when music was a love of the adventure of life, written for all.” If that sounds like something harking back to a perceived earlier golden age of the late 60s, in particular in its desire to provide “a rainbow of musical color”, it is also a not inaccurate summation of the music on the CD.
Resurrection kicks off with the bluesy instrumental shuffle of the title track, with Letizia’s jazz-rock guitar to the fore. Backed by The Underworld Blues Rock Band, Letizia generously shares the spotlight with his backing musicians, whether on the funky pop-rock of “Standing By The Door” – which highlights the magnificent rhythm section of drummer Steve Renko and bassist Larry Keller, especially in its time shifts – or in the clever horn stabs of Tim Keehn (trombone), Mike Fisher (trumpet) and Bob Esterle (saxophones) on slower songs such as “Three Hearts” or “Mr Bad Luck”. The latter track contains the unusual – if striking – couplet of “Someone’s been hanging around who ain’t supposed to be here. I just can’t quite tell who. But I think it’s Mr Bad Luck. Oh no. Boo hoo.”
There is no lack of imagination on Resurrection as the musicians seamlessly blend a wide variety of musical styles and time signatures. “Nothing To Me” moves closer to rock, in particular in the catchy verse riff and the hard rock chorus, although Letizia’s solos superimpose a touch of jazz on proceedings. “Sylvester Loved The Ladies” combines a salsa groove with a jazz-rock chord turnaround. The descending chord progression of “Have A Little Party” leads into another funky Salso drum work-out for Renko. The reggae-lite of “Talk To Yourself” features a wah-wah guitar solo, but it is the sparingly-used horns that have most impact.
The guitar is very much the lead instrument on the album. Letizia has a warm, slightly husky singing voice, although one senses on tracks like the autobiographical “Old Guitar Player” that he feels more comfortable expressing himself through his guitar playing. This may however be simply because the voice is mixed every so slightly lower across the album than one usually expects.
Resurrection harks back to the late 1960s/early 1970s in its willingness to mix musical genres, in particular by the imposition of heavily jazz-influenced guitar on blues/rock/pop chord structures. There is also a hint of the concept albums of the 1970s as Letizia repeatedly finds religious symbolism in the music he plays. The two shuffles that book-end the album are titled “Resurrection” and “Ascension” (the latter of which contains the upbeat, gospel message that “the blues is here to stay, and I believe it’s washing my troubles away”), while the shuffle of “Purgatory” is deliberately placed as the centrepiece of the album, in which Letizia recounts a dream of a conversation with Saint Peter.
Overall, however, Resurrection is a very impressive album. If your tastes run to the jazz-rock end of the blues spectrum, you will definitely want to check it out.