Tommy Z – Blizzard Of Blues | Album Review

tommyzcdTommy Z – Blizzard Of Blues

Self-Release 2016

9 tracks: 53 minutes 

Tommy Z is from the Buffalo NY area and this is his fourth album.  Tommy wrote eight of the nine tracks, produced the album and helped engineer the recordings.  Tommy handles all guitar and vocals with drummer Damone Jackson and one of three bassists: Jerry Livingston (five tracks), Stanley Swampski or Walter Riggo (two tracks each).  Kevin Urso adds keyboards to six cuts and Jeremy Keyes harp to one.  The style ranges from blues-rock to straight blues with some jazzy touches here and there.

Opener “Lover Girl” is a solid shuffle with Jeremy’s harp adding to the classic blues feel.  “Going To A Party” takes the energy (and pretty much the core riff) from SRV’s “House Is Rockin’” to generate a frenetic rocker which is great fun.  Things get heavier on the churning “Memory Of Love” as Kevin’s organ supports some guitar pyrotechnics from Tommy.  “Blues For K.P.” is an extended slow blues in which Tommy laments the loss of a friend but has decided that “I’ve done my crying but it’s time for moving on” so perhaps the cathartic guitar solo here is Tommy’s way of saying goodbye. The instrumental “Bags Of Cool” almost certainly references Albert Collins who made a career out of such titles and Tommy plays some fine Albert style licks here.

The title track has a ‘blizzard’ of notes as Tommy’s insistent riff underpins a song that talks of getting home in a snow storm but there is not a lot of actual blues here.  Tommy’s voice is probably better suited to uptempo material but the emotive ballad “Miracle” is still one of the highlights of the album with some fine guitar playing, including a superb solo. The only cover is “My Eyes (Keep Me In Trouble)”, written by Herbert Walker and best known for Muddy Waters’ version. Tommy plays it pretty straight through the verses and Kevin’s organ playing is great but Tommy can’t resist some over-playing in the solo section. The album closes with a second instrumental “Al’s Groove” which is a sharp contrast with its cool jazz approach, Kevin’s organ stabs fitting really well as Tommy plays this beautifully – quite out of keeping with the rest of the album but extremely enjoyable.

This CD has some excellent tracks.  Most blues fans should find something here to their taste but it may not always be the same tracks!

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