Jack De Keyzer – Tribute
Blue Star Records – 2020
12 tracks; 49 minutes
In 2018 Canadian guitarist Jack De Keyzer paid tribute to Chess Records on Checkmate, a collection of covers of Chicago classics. His latest release is entitled Tribute and this time it’s an all-original program which tips the hat towards some of Jack’s guitar influences from the wider world of rock and blues. Jack handles all vocals and guitar work with Nick Succi on keys, Richard Thornton on tenor sax and conga, Alan Duffy on bass and Peter Grimmer on drums. The album was recorded in Clarington, Ontario, with Jack at the controls.
“Are You Ready?” is a most appropriate title for an opening track as Jack asks if we are all “ready to boogie all night long”. Jack’s leads could reflect the influence of Hendrix or Page but Freddie King also comes to mind, as he does particularly on “Coming Up” which has echoes (not just in the title) of “Going Down”, with Nick’s insistent piano work as well as Jack’s great guitar work. Clapton may well be another influence, the slow blues “You Turned My World To Blue” being one example and closing track “Forever” has twin guitar work that takes us right back to the halcyon days of Eric recording “Layla” with Duane Allman. The opening of “Shake What Your Mama Gave You” reminded this reviewer of Cream’s Disraeli Gears (think “SWLABR” for instance), although the boogie piano is a welcome addition to the power trio’s style. Supernatural was the title of Santana’s best-selling album of the turn of the millennium; this engaging latin tune has both acoustic and electric guitar leads very much in the style of Carlos Santana.
“That’s How We Make Love” has some lovely, soulful guitar, perhaps influenced by Curtis Mayfield or George Benson. The jagged rhythm guitar work offsets Jack’s lilting leads and the caress of the sax but one should also recognize how well Jack sings this one, a standout track. “Just For The Funk” does what the title suggests and Jack’s scat singing may be another reference back to George Benson. Jack gives us another style on “Keep The Fire Burning” by combining reggae rhythms with some searing leads, again in Santana territory, while “If My Baby Left Me” is a Chicago blues and the closest link back to the material on Checkmate. “On The Money” has sax behind Jack’s fiery guitar while “Let’s Do It” has more of a 60’s pop feel with a dash of Motown in the rhythm section.
My review of Checkmate concluded that “there are plenty of covers of these songs around but if you want to hear them well covered this is an album to get”. This album is the other way round: a thoroughly entertaining set of originals that pay tribute to a diverse set of influences. Recommended!