Jumping Matt & His Combo – Dressed Up | Album Review

Jumping Matt & His Combo Dressed Up

Released September 2018


12 tracks, 41:31 minutes

Based in Balatonalmádi, a town about 50 miles southwest of the Hungarian capital of Budapest, Matyas “Matt” Pribojszki is an accomplished vocalist, harmonica player, and bandleader who began playing harmonica at age 15, having been inspired by a Sonny Boy Williamson recording.

In the mid-90s, his band, The Blues Fools, toured the European blues circuit and recorded three albums. Over the last 15 years, he’s released five albums as the Matyas Pribojszki Band, and has toured extensively (30 countries and counting) throughout Europe and in the U.S. He’s supported or shared the stage with folks like Charlie Musselwhite, Bob Margolin, Duke Robillard, Bill Wyman, Carlos Del Junco, and Tom Jones to name just a few. His energetic on-stage moves have earned him the nickname “Jumpin’ Matt,” and his latest release, Dressed Up, provides a sonic equivalent, with some truly exceptional big-band jumpin’ blues.

Featuring Pribojszki on vocals and harmonica, his combo include Ferenc Szász on guitar, Daniel Molnár on drums, László Csizmadia on bass. They’re joined on this outing by the dozen musicians who comprise the Custom Big Band… and let me tell ya, that’s a LOT of horns! The horn arrangements, by Attila Almasi, are energetic and engaging, and as tight as they come. There are a dozen songs on this CD, all originals with the exception of Big Joe Turner’s classic “Switchin’ in the Kitchen”. From the very first track – “Full-Time Baby” – you’ll be tappin’ your toes and grooving with the band. This band swings hard, and all of the musicianship and performances are solid. From the first moment that I popped this into my cd player, I was hooked!

The songs are mostly up-tempo numbers designed, I imagine, for the dance floor… because when you’re listening to them, it’s extremely difficult to NOT move in time with the beat. The songs are catchy, the band’s playing is hot, and Pribojszki’s harp playing is outstanding. Playing diatonic or chromatic, his playing is imaginative, spirited, technically precise, and most importantly, tasteful… very tasteful!

The album’s title track and opener, “Dressed Up,” is a (very) up-tempo blues that that takes off like a gunshot and lets you know that this band will be kicking ass and taking names. Those horn players really get a workout on this one!

Next up is the minor-key shuffle “Love is Fake”, on which Matt really gives the chromatic a workout.

“Real Good Man” demonstrates that Matt and the band can bring a funk sensibility when the material calls for it. Here, guitarist Szász stretches-out with a crisp solo, followed by a frisky, upper-register solo by Pribojszki.

“Wet Lips” is a jumper, and the horns really cook, as does Pribojszki’s all-too-brief solo. The trombone gets a piece of the action, too, and fits in perfectly with the groove.

The rockin’ boogie shuffle “Can’t Make You Stay” features an energetic slide solo that snakes through the arrangement.

The pulsing Texas-style shuffle of “Hard-Working Man” feels a bit like Stevie Ray, by way of the Buddy Rich Big Band. And it works!

There’s not a bad song on the album, and there’s enough variety in this collection to please most any fan of the blues. The consistently stellar performances ensure that the songs all work together to form a cohesive, thoroughly enjoyable whole.

Dressed Up was recorded by László Válik at L.V. Hang Studio in Budapest, and mixed and mastered by Kid Andersen at Greaseland Studios in San Jose, CA.

This is an album that withstands repeated listenings, and if you’re looking for something to lift your spirits and get your toes tapping, Dressed Up definitely fits the bill. Those of you in the E.U. who have an opportunity to see Pribojski – with either his combo or the big band – should make every effort to do so. And hey, there’s always YouTube, if you can’t get to see them live. Either way, DO IT! You won’t be disappointed!

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