Leo Maier – I Choose The Blues | Album Review

Leo MaierI Choose The Blues

Self-Release – 2017

11 tracks; 45 minutes


Leo Maier is a 33 year old Brazilian guitarist who has previously released two EPs but this is his first full album, all original material and very good it is too. Leo plays guitar throughout, bass on two tracks and handles the vocals (though half the material is instrumental). Backing Leo are Davyk Martins and Eduardo Martorano who share the drum stool, either Fernando Mueller or Emerson Mainhardt on bass, Junior Marques on keyboards and Helio Reichert who plays sax on five tracks. Cristiano Ferreira contributes guitar to three tracks and backing vocals on two cuts come from Willian de Andrade and Willard Ribeiro.

The album opens with “Good Luck Socks”, a swinging instrumental with Leo’s T-Bone style guitar and Helio’s smooth sax; perhaps the superstition implied in the title is real as the tune appears also as the final track, without the sax! “You’ve Been Drinking Too Much” has a Texas feel to the guitar and rhythm and our first acquaintance with Leo’s vocals which are fine. The amusingly titled “South To North Slide” finds Leo playing some lively slide over a latin rhythm with Junior’s piano featured. “Partying With The Band” is a solid shuffle that swings with guitar and sax though lyrically the song rather runs out of steam with repetition of the title towards the end. “Blumenau Boogie” pays tribute to Leo’s home city in South Brazil where the album was also recorded, Leo tipping his hat to Albert Collins with the rhythm of the tune.

Another fine instrumental “Blues For Mr Jody Williams” references Bo Diddley’s guitar player whose comeback albums in the early 2000’s are well worth discovering if readers are not familiar; Leo’s tune picks up from one of Jody’s most famous tunes “Moanin’ For Molasses” and is a standout track as Leo plays beautifully with subtle support from Emerson’s bass and Helio’s sax. We then get three extended tracks, each clocking in at around six minutes: the title track is apparently the first song that Leo wrote and in it he explains his love for the blues in a lilting slow blues that provides lots of opportunities for Leo to play his heart out in impressive style; “That Crazy Girl” has more of a Southern feel with echoey guitar and “We Miss The King” is a tribute to BB on which Leo and Cristiano both play beautifully, avoiding trying to emulate BB’s unique style but still giving us an elegant tune that captures something of his majesty. “I’m Travelling” is a rocker as Leo explains how he has to travel to meet up with his girl.

Leo’s hallmark is a clean style of playing and he gets to show off his abilities across a pleasing range of tunes here, aided by sympathetic backing. An impressive debut and a disc well worth seeking out.

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