Terry Blersh – Play It All Day
CD: 11 Songs, 35:35 Minutes
Styles: Jazz-Influenced Blues, Ensemble Blues
If there’s one thing yours truly has learned about the energy that emanates from blues music, it’s that such energy comes in a lot of different colors, along different musical wavelengths. Some blues are fire-engine red, with plenty of rip-roaring guitar. That’s not what Canada’s Terry Blersh plays. His tunes are mocha-latte smooth, and they range from robin’s-egg blue to indigo: relaxing, engaging, the kind you play at a coffeehouse instead of a bar. Certain purists may claim he leans too far to the jazz side of jazz-influenced blues; others will find his style hits the spot. On his sophomore release, Play It All Day, he combines the best of both genres and adds fluid, melodic vocals as a bonus. Accompanying him is a large ensemble playing a wide variety of instruments, including guitar, mandolin, piano, organ, drums, bass, and saxophones. Out of eleven songs, eight are originals; the best cover is Gordon Lightfoot’s “Early Morning Rain.”
Perhaps the most notable thing about Terry Blersh, beside his avant-garde fusion of jazz and blues, is his association with renowned genre artists. His resume includes sharing the stage with Harrison Kennedy, Garth Hudson, John Mays, Paul Reddick, Chuck Jackson and several others. Blersh has also starred in featured spots in producer Lance Anderson’s celebrations of “The Last Waltz,” “Soulsville – Stax Records,” and “Mad Dogs & Englishmen.” Several publications in his native country have given Terry rave reviews, including Maple Blues. Last but not least, this CD was produced and recorded by Grammy-and-Juno-Award-nominated Jeremy Darby.
Performing along with Terry Blersh (vocals, guitar, electric piano) are Al Cross and Shamakah Ali on drums; Lance Anderson on piano, Hammond, Wurlitzer and Rhodes organs; Denis Keldie on piano, Hammond organ, and accordion; Garth Vogan, Tom Griffiths and Colin Barrett on bass; Michael Fonfara on Hammond organ; Jimmy Bowskill on mandolin and vocals; Gene Hardy on saxophone; Art Avalos on percussion, and John Mays, John Finley and Quisha Wint on various vocals.
The three songs below are perfect for downtime, whether at home or at a live concert of Terry’s.
Track 02: “It’s All Right” – The first true blues/jazz fusion number is a mid-tempo boogie with tongue-in-cheek lyrics: “My baby don’t like sugar; my baby don’t like spice, and I can’t stand her cooking, but it’s all right.” One wonders how that’s possible, but when it comes to love, anything is, even the mixing of complete opposites. John Finley stars on good-natured yet sly guest vocals. As for Gene Hardy’s sax, it’s as fiery as cayenne pepper.
Track 03: “Play It All Day” – Quisha Wint takes the lead opposite Blersh on the title track, an ode to music that could also apply to the album itself. It brings warm spring days and cool summer nights to mind, exhibiting the perfect balance of vocals and instrumentation. Dig Michael Fonfara’s Hammond organ and Lance Anderson’s talents on keyboards. “I don’t care if the sun don’t shine; sing my song and feel so fine,” sing the background vocalists with pizzazz.
Track 06: “The Girl Outside My Window” – This one’s a bit strange, with a definite Zydeco kick thanks to Denis Keldie’s accordion, but the lyrics just can’t be beat. When you’ve got a stalker, whether online or in real life, you might share our narrator’s sentiments: “The girl outside my window just couldn’t see that I’d never feel the way she did for me. I told her soft and slow, ‘Just take your heart and go. Don’t waste your time, oh, girl outside my window.’”
Do you enjoy mellow, jazz-influenced blues? When it comes to this CD, Play It All Day!