Igor Prado Band and Delta Groove All-Stars – Way Down South | Album Review

igorpradobandcdIgor Prado Band and Delta Groove All-Stars – Way Down South

Delta Groove Music DGPCD167


13 songs – 54 minutes

The sudden passing last year of harmonica wizard Richard “Lynwood Slim” Duran left friends and fans reeling, but he’s personally responsible for this sensational farewell gift: The release of this CD from Brazilian guitarist Igor Prado and his tight quartet on which some of his last recording sessions occurred.

Lynwood Slim met Prado during a trip to Sao Paolo, where most of this album was recorded, and they bonded instantly in music and life. With the release of Brazilian Kicks five years ago, they proved without a doubt that their individual skills fit like hand and glove despite the 6,000 miles that separated them. Recorded in Brazil and California, this album reunites the pair, who are joined by many of the best musicians the West Coast has to offer.

Like Elizabeth Cotten, Albert King, Otis Rush and Lefty Dizz before him and like Eddy Clearwater and Coco Montoya today, Prado plays the six-string upside down and lefthanded. His group previously released three CDs in his homeland that are available through CDBaby in the U.S. His stinging single-note technique is warm and rich, perfect for jump and swing, as well as Texas-meets-California blues, in which his band excels.

He’s accompanied here by his regular lineup of Rodrigo Montovani (bass), Yuri Prado (drums) and Denilson Martins (tenor and baritone sax). There are great harp players all over this disc, including Slim, Mitch Kashmar, Rod Piazza, Randy Chortkoff, Ivan Marcio, Kim Wilson and Omar and Wallace Coleman. Mud Morganfield, J.J. Jackson and Sugaray Rayford make guest vocal appearances, along with Monster Mike Welch and Junior Watson on guitar and Ari Borger, Donny Nichilo, Honey Piazza and Raphael Wressnig on keyboards.

The Ike Turner classic “Matchbox” kicks off the show with Rayford holding down the vocals. The rhythm section and horns combine to propel the disc into a rhythm that continues throughout. Prado’s first appearance comes after the first verses with a powerful guitar run that plays in and out for the remainder of the song. Throughout the album, he’s on hand to make a statement, but he’s never overstated. Wilson assumes the microphone for a version of Long John Hunter’s “Ride With Me Baby.” A decidedly Latin rhythm pattern replaces the rapid-fire railroad-style drum beat beat featured on the original.

Morganfield vocally channels his dad for the Muddy Waters original, “She’s Got It,” with Marcio blowing the back off the harmonica before Lynwood Slim takes command for “Baby Won’t You Jump With Me,” a Lloyd Glenn/Lowell Fulson song that swings from the get-go, driven forward with sensational solos from Watson and Borger. Next up is “What Have I Done,” featuring Kashmar on harp and vocals and adding a bit of West Coast swing to Jimmy Rogers’ Chicago classic. Prado takes command of the mike for the Jr. Walker & The All-Stars’ blockbuster, “Shake & Fingerpop,” substituting his guitar mastery for the original keyboard lead.

The Piazzas come to the fore for a version of Elmore James’ stop-time masterpiece “Talk To Me Baby” before the band takes an unexpected left turn to the bayou and a faithful interpretation of Slim Harpo’s “If You Ever Need Me” with Wilson on vocals. Jackson’s voice is powerful for a send-up of Joe Tex’s “You Got What It Takes” before Rayford returns for his self-penned “Big Mama Blues,” a Muddy-style dazzler. Covers of Paul Gayten’s “You Better Believe It,” Lightning Slim’s “Rooster Blues” and Omar Coleman’s “Trying To Do Right” — featuring Coleman on harp and vocals — conclude the set.

Available through Amazon and iTunes or direct through the City Hall Records link above and dedicated to the memory of Lynwood Slim, this CD is definitely worth keeping close to the stereo and in easy reach. You’ll want to play it again and again. Despite the lack of new material, all of the songs have been reinterpreted for the 21st Century. It’s definitely going on my short list as a potential album of the year.

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