Jeff Golub with Brian Auger – Train Keeps A Rolling | Album review

jeffgolubcdJeff Golub with Brian Auger – Train Keeps A Rolling
Entertainment One Music
11 songs – 48 minutes

You’ll have to excuse Jeff Golub for straying away from the mainstream blues he displayed so successfully in his most recent CDs – “Blues For You” and “The Three Kings,” a tribute to B.B., Albert and Freddie. He’s had his own share of the blues in the past two years. Not only did he lose his sight when his optic nerve failed, but he also went through a near-death experience while attempting to catch a subway in New York. He fell off the tracks and suffered minor injuries when brushed by a passing train before being saved by good Samaritans. It’s for that reason that he stands defiantly between the tracks on the cover of this disc, his guide dog Luke at his side.

During the past 30 years, Golub’s built a huge following in several areas of the music universe. A native of Copley, Ohio, he studied music at Boston’s Berklee College of Music and played behind Bay State harp legend James Montgomery before moving to the suburbs of Manhattan. He recorded 11 albums and toured the world eight times while featured guitarist in the bands of rockers Billy Squier and Rod Stewart, and was a member of Dave Koz’s Kozmos, the house band for Emeril Lagasse’s TV show. His smooth, clean guitar styles combine the techniques of childhood hero Wes Montgomery with Chicago blues legends. As displayed on this CD, the eleventh release under his own name and fourteenth as leader, the end result is a sophisticated blend of soulful fretwork that instantaneously displays style and class no matter the format.

Augmenting Golub is British keyboard hero Brian Auger, the Hammond B-3 jazz-fusion master best known in blues circles for his work with Eric Burdon. “When I was about 15 years old, I picked up a copy of ‘Closer To It’ by Brian Auger’s Oblivion Express and it changed my life,” Golub says. Adding to the mix are regular Auger sidemen Derek Frank (bass) and Steve Ferrone (drums), as well as percussionist Luis Conte and a horn section comprised of Mindi Abair (alto sax), Nick Lane (trombone), Dave Woodford (baritone sax and flute) and Steve Madaio (trumpet). Vocals are handled by ‘70s superstar Christopher Cross, David Pack of Ambrosia and Alex Ligertwood, an original member of Oblivion.

Available through Amazon, “Train Keeps A Rolling” pulls out of the station with “The Cat,” an uptempo version of the Lalo Schifrin penned Jimmy Smith classic, and the first of three consecutive instrumentals that open the set. The horn section propels it forward as Golub turns the song around and takes the lead on guitar with Auger providing the response. “Isola Natale,” written by Auger and previously unrecorded, is a strong, bluesy number with an urban feel. Golub’s “Train Keeps A Rolling” plays atop a funky polyrhythm and features the guitarist at his absolute best.

The first mainstream blues offering here, “I Love The Life I Live,” follows. It was written by Willie Dixon in the ‘50s before Mose Allison made it a hit years later, and features a fine, uncredited vocal, probably delivered by Cross. Two more covers of mainstream ‘70s hits follow: a fresh instrumental take on Curtis Mayfield’s “Pusherman,” followed by Cross singing “How Long,” the J.D. Souther song that sold millions of copies for the British band, Ace. Golub provides a brief, tasty solo to the latter, which sticks closely to the original formula.

The band swings from the jump on “J&B,” another blues-tinged, Golub-penned instrumental in which he takes the lead and yields to a B-3 break mid-tune. The next two numbers – “Happiness Is Just Around The Bend,” sung by Ligertwood, and “Shepherds Bush Market” – were written by Auger and previously interpreted on Oblivion Express releases. Golub’s guitar contributions provide both a new voice. The rhythm section is featured on “Whenever You’re Ready,” a B-3 fueled blues, before a closing cover of“Walking On The Moon,” the Sting/Police hit on which Pack provides vocals.

If you’re a diehard blues traditionalist with limited to one-four-five progressions and strict 12-bar structure, Golub’s previous two offerings would be much more to your liking because he returns to his previous soul-jazz roots here. If, however, you lean in the direction of the bluesier stylings of the Tonight Show Band, this one will be right up your alley.

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