11 songs – 47 minutes
Here’s something different and interesting for you: Ted Hefko and his Thousandaires deliver a classy collection of material with a throwback feel that bathes you in the feel of the New Orleans on every cut.
Hefko is a native New Yorker and now calls the Crescent City home. This disc was recorded and features guest artists from both locales as it presents musical styles ranging from straight blues to swing, jive, pre-World War II jazz and R&B. No matter the style, however, the feel of the Mississippi River flows strongly throughout.
In addition to handling vocals, tenor sax, clarinet and acoustic guitar, Hefko penned all of the originals you’ll hear here. He’s backed by his regular unit of Neil Flink on electric guitar, Brian Vinson on upright bass and Norman Edwards Jr. on drums with assists from Dalton Ridenhour and Marek Sapievski (piano), trumpet players Leon “Kid Chocolate” Brown — who was featured on the HBO series Treme — and Satoru Ohashi, Andy “Dr. Bone” Galbiati (trombone) and Dominick Grillo (baritone sax).
The album kicks off with “Hesitation Blues,” the only cover in the set. Written by W.C. Handy, but attributed to several different writers in the past 100 years, the tune has seen life as a jug band and Western swing number, but is presented here in traditional New Orleans fashion, providing plenty of space for the musicians to stretch out as Hefko delivers the familiar lyrics about “Standing on the corner with a dollar in my hand/I’m looking for a woman and she’s looking for a man.”
That song sets the stage for the 10 originals that follow in a seamless, fluid manner. “Sweat Upon My Brow” kicks off with a bass run followed by the horns as Hefko delivers a soulful R&B number about lost love. The sweat’s cold on the singer’s chest. He realizes he’s been used, but still wants her. Hefko’s sax solo mid-tune drives the feeling home. It continues with the blues shuffle “I Don’t Feel Welcome Here,” in which the subject is in a familiar place, but folks don’t remember his name. The bandleader’s clarinet work is stellar throughout.
The swinging, stop-time blues, “I’ve Got A Right To Carry On,” leads into the sweet, syncopated ballad title cut, “One More Distillation Of The Blues,” with Flink coming to the fore before the jazzy instrumental, “Captain Jack,” gives the horn section more room to work their magic. “Slippin’ Slowly,” an acoustic blues that features Hefko on guitar with accents from Ohashi, describes writing songs after lost love before “Bad Kids” provides a swinging, minor-key description of pot-smoking, crap-shooting troublemakers.
The pace slows for the ballad “Adam And The Devil,” a tender vow to no longer sing songs Satan delivered to the first man or to worship in a temple of pain. Hefko’s clarinet takes the lead again another ballad, the jazzy “Butterfly Dreamin’,” before the funky “When The Weather Breaks” concludes the set.
Sophisticated and stylish throughout, Distillations Of The Blues delivers quality tunes with a retro feel. Available through Amazon, CDBady, Microsoft and other online retailers, pick it up if you’ve got a taste for old-school New Orleans jazz and blues. You won’t be disappointed.