Scott Ramminger – Live at 3rd and Lindsley Nashville
Arbor Lane Music – 2022
11 tracks; 53:54
Scott Ramminger almost feels like a character out of central casting, with his bluesy voice, his jazzy songs, and his stylish saxophone, all creating a hip, impossibly retro vibe. On Live at 3rd and Lindsley Nashville, Ramminger shows off his talents while displaying restraint. His sax work is Zen-like in its precision, with Ramminger only playing the right notes and omitting everything else.
The album is a compilation of two shows from the titular Nashville club, 3rd and Lindsley, plus a bonus studio track. Ramminger has a low-key, throwback energy. His voice, which has a bemused quality, is reminiscent of Elvin Bishop. His band is tight and fluent in many blues grooves, while his guitarists (James Pennebaker on one show and Joe McMahan on the other) do a nice job playing off of the music, and Ramminger’s saxophone.
Saxophone can be a controversial instrument. For some, it creates fun images of ’50s rock and Bruce Springsteen’s Clarence Clemons. For others, the saxophone can conjure Kenny G and squawky, shrill jazz. Ramminger is the former, with a beautiful, rich tone as sturdy as oak.
“I Really Love Your Smile” opens with Ramminger’s warm sax before the song kicks into a bouncing groove. Ramminger sings and hands the tune over to McMahan who solos and provides rough tremolo, like surf guitar played during a storm. Ramminger reclaims the song for his own solo, which honks in a fun way.
“This Town’s Seen the Last of Me” is ’50s rock and roll that jumps, but the star is Ramminger’s sax, which barely needs the band playing behind him. Sure there’s some guitar soloing and the rhythm section moves things along, but it’s all secondary to Ramminger. This isn’t a wild, bebop energy, but rather the controlled fury of rock and roll. He’s not exploring the song; he’s rocketing through it.
The one studio track, “Come Valentine’s Day,” is also very cool. It’s jazz, but with a rough edge, much in the spirit of Bob Dylan’s Fallen Angels album. The tune, a Ramminger original, sounds like a standard, but between his voice and his power sax, it also feels like his own creation.
Ramminger isn’t treading new ground with his music, but he’s taking a road less traveled. You don’t hear much lead sax in contemporary rock and blues, but Ramminger brings an energy to his playing that makes it easy to listen to his album. Live at 3rd and Lindsley Nashville is relaxing and engaging, but never dull.