The Ron Kraemer Trio – Sarasota Swing | Album Review

The Ron Kraemer Trio – Sarasota Swing

Self-produced CD

11 songs – 51 minutes

A former New Jersey snowbird who now nests in Sarasota on Florida’s west coast, guitarist Ron Kraemer and his skintight bandmates are a contemporary jazz-blues trio with their feet planted comfortably in the past, and they make their recording debut with this stellar, all-instrumental set, which would have fit perfectly in the world of café society in the ‘50s and ‘60s.

The music on this disc is a direct link to the sounds of Charlie Christian, Wes Montgomery, Kenny Burrell and other titans that dominated the era, blending blues, bebop and elements of Latin jazz into a cohesive package sure to have you heading straight to the dance floor.

Formerly the front man of the Hurricanes, a five-piece unit based out of Trenton, N.J., Kraemer and his bandmates – upright bassist Gregg Germony and percussionist Michael Finley, who plays only brushes throughout – honed their sound while steadily working outdoor venues during the COVID crisis. They penned all of the material here in concert with tenor sax/B-3 organist Reggie Murray, a longtime veteran of the Nashville music scene, who joins them throughout.

The trio recorded their portion of the set at HUH Production Studio in Sarasota while Murray laid down his runs at his own studio in Music City, where the entire package was mixed and mastered by Jim Schachter at The Song Closet. He’s the other “Nashville cat” referenced on the cover.

Classy and polished throughout, they deliver a tip of the cap to John Coltrane with “Junior Steps” to open with Reggie building on the riffs Trane laid down on his classic number, “Giant Steps,” and anchoring it on keys before Ron delivers a sweet, steady solo on six-string. Elements of Charlie Parker’s bebop standard, “Billie’s Bounce,” are present in the horn runs that close.

The medium-paced “Siesta Afternoon” flows effortlessly to follow and gives Murray plenty of space to show off his horn talents and then switching to keys without dropping a beat. Kraemer picks up the lead to open “The Craw,” a languorous number that will have you swaying steadily throughout. It heats up thanks to Reggie’s mid-tune soul and speeds slightly to close.

The true-blue “In Walked Wilbo” follows, featuring a boogaloo beat and steady onslaught of tasty, single-note guitar runs anchored by organ before yielding to sax lines that fly from the jump. “At the Blasé Café” finds Kraemer delivering Christian-style fret work before “Bo Knows” delivers a classy tip of the hat to Bo Diddley atop a jazzed-up version of the beat that made the bluesman a sensation.

The percussive “Reggie No. 2” follows with Ron and Reggie first trading lines on guitar and horn and then doubling the runs before flying off in different, parallel directions before yielding to “Fred’s Bop,” a pure jazz pleaser, and “Gone Gulfing,” a Jimmy Smith-style shuffle that bridges soul and jazz. “Hampton Roads,” a blues with a distinctly Magic Sam/Chicago sound, and the light and breezy “Who’s Knockin’?” bring the disc to a close.

Pour yourself a martini or make yourself a Manhattan for this one. You’ll be raising your glass in a toast because the music here will definitely make you smile.

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