Jabo – Jabo Blues | Album Review

Jabo – Jabo Blues

Alnico Recording Studios


10 tracks/39 minutes

Jabo James Houston and Roy Lee Crawford are two elder statesmen of the East Austin blues scene whose work has mostly gone unnoticed. Not wanting the sound and music of these eminent musicians to fade into the sunset, the band mates got 78 year old James “Jabo” Houston and his band The OL Dogs into the studio to preserve their music..

Houston sings and plays organ (physical problems leading him to a wheelchair made him switch from bass to organ) and the rest of the band  are Roy Crawford on vocals, Bobby Terrell on sax, Eric Przygocki on bass, Nico Leophonte on drums, Jack Edery on guitar and Billy Cummings on organ, trumpet and backing vocals.  Crawford handles tracks 3, 5 and 8 while Houston fronts the band on the other seven cuts. Jabo wrote two of the tracks and the other songs are delightful covers.

“Down Home Blues gets the ball rolling with some impassioned vocals by Jabo, cool organ by Cummins, and greasy sax by Terrell. Edery completes the solos with a nice set of guitar riffs. “First Name Is Jabo” follows, the first of the two original cuts. Jabo tells his he’s chased women since age 12 and he learned how to ride despite his dady not being a jockey. Another nice horn solo and stinging guitar solo are included. Jabo growls out the vocal lead with aplomb.  OBTW, he won’t tell us his second name as it’s never been told.

Crawford takes a turn up front on “Woke Up This Morning,” a cool blues which he sings with clarity and great emotions. Another nice horn and guitar solo are included. Jabo returns for his own cut the gritty “Down in Louisiana.” He’s packing his .44 to get revenge on his woman and her new man. He’s going to get himself a mojo hand while down there, too, to help tell his baby she’s been loving another man. These are some pretty and slow blues brewed up right. A slow and delicious sax solo followed by an equally tasty guitar solo help add to the feeling here.

“Change My Mind”  has Crawford return for this funky tune with a great guitar groove going for it. He again sings with feeling as the organ and guitar support the effort nicely. The vocals drive this one along as the band supports the effort. ”The Things I Use to Do” follows, a gutsy performance by Jabo. Another sax and guitar solo are featured here along with some great organ work.

“Night Tine is the Right Time” opens with some gritty harp and is another equally gritty and cool vocal performance by Jabo. Yet another sweet organ and then guitar solo are included. Ben E. King’s “Stand By Me” gets a well done cover by Crawford. He carries the cut again with his vocals as the band backs him.

“Twenty Room House” is Jabo doing Bobby Bland. Edery does some fine guitar work in support throughout. Terrell offers up another solo for us, too. Herbie Hancock’s “Watermelon Man” concludes the album, a very well done instrumental. Cummings breaks out his trumpet along with his organ here as he and Terrell take care of most of the up front stuff. Edery does superbly in support, too.

It’s nice to hear classic bluesmen at their craft. Without the urging and pushing by their band mates,  I doubt any of us outside of Austin would have heard of Jabo, Roy Lee and the OL Boys. This is a fun and authentic album performed by two elder musicians who must have been even better in their prime. They still bring it today and I really enjoyed this album. It is well worth a listen or two!

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