Rene Trossman – Live in Prague | Album Review

Rene Trossman – Live in Prague

Hold It! Records

13 songs – 70 minutes

An ex-pat Chicagoan who’s been based out the Czech Republic since the mid-‘90s, guitarist Rene Trossman laid the groundwork for his career working at small West and South Side clubs in the Windy City. One listen to this extended set and you’ll know he did his homework because it shines like a diamond.

Influenced by Albert King, Muddy Waters, Magic Sam Junior Wells and Louis Myers, as a sideman, Trossman worked in support of Chick Willis, Byther Smith, Iceman Robinson, Eb Davis, Dietra Farr, Sharon Lewis and several other fixtures on the local scene from 1985 through 1994, when he emigrated to Prague. He’s been a fixture on the Central European blues scene ever since.

All of the material on this CD was captured at Jazz Dock club in Prague about a year before coronavirus put the world into lockdown, and Rene and his skintight five-piece backing unit deliver a collection of ten originals and three well-crafted covers – all of which are imbued with a contemporary urban feel.

Trossman is a rock-steady fret master who’s always well-modulated, and he possesses a pleasantly well-worn, slightly thin mid-range voice that lilts throughout. He’s backed by an all-Austrian lineup that includes Tomáš Homuta on piano, Jan Tengler on bass, Tomáš Vokurka on drums with Osian Roberts on sax and Roman Němec on trumpet. And virtually everything in this set will get you up and dancing.

“Ain’t Gonna Hurt Me No More,” a driving uptempo shuffle about a love affair gone bad, opens powered by keys and horns and allowing plenty of space for Trossman and Homuta to display their talents on the fretboard and 88s throughout. The theme continues in “You Sure Left in a Hurry,” which bookends seamlessly once the opener ends.

“I Don’t Need No Technology” brightens the mood. It’s a long song that swings from the jump as it urges a lady to turn of the TV, shut off the radio and avoid the cellphone and computer because they’re about to perform a late show all their own. Unfortunately, though, the good times don’t last because – as described in “She Fooled Me” – the lady proved to be a master of “steppin’ out and tellin’ lies.”

A cover of John Lee Sanders’ sprightly “One Crazy Night” follows before the tempo slows slightly as Rene claims he’s a winner at everything he attempts in “I’m on a Roll,” which gives the horns space to shine – something they do throughout. Homuta flies over the keyboard to kick off “Who Do You Think You Are,” a blazing complaint about someone overwhelmed by his own self-importance, before a little New Orleans-flavored funk kicks in with “My Endless Blue Mood.”

“Won’t You Please Come Back to Me” pleads a lover to return and flows in a tremendous reinterpretation of Albert King’s “As the Years Go Passing By” before Trossman delivers “Down at Rosa’s,” a tribute to the landmark club that’s been delivering the blues on Chicago’s Northwest Side for the past 40 years. Two more tunes – the aptly titled original, “This World Is in a Mess,” and the warhorse “Sweet Home Chicago” – bring the disc to a close.

Available through Spotify, Apple Music, Pandora, Deezer, YouTube, Amazon and Tidal, this one’s strongly recommended – and guaranteed to brighten your mood! Strong musicianship and quality tunes throughout.

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