Doug Wamble

Bluestate

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Guitarist/vocalist Doug Wamble's second outing for Marsalis Music is a bit of a departure from the country blues-inflected sound of his debut disc, Country Libations. Featuring his longtime working ensemble of pianist Roy Dunlap, bassist Jeff Hanley, and drummer Peter Miles, Bluestate finds Wamble toning down his more old-timey influences in favor of a contemporary post-bop aesthetic. Also, Wamble has magnified the Southern gospel influences evident on Country Libations into a mix of folky gospel and complex harmonic jazz. The combination works particular well as Wamble, having expressed a wide array of influences from Charlie Christian to Pat Metheny, seems ever intent on forging new ground while always retaining certain valuable aspects of the jazz tradition. To these ends, he still performs with his hollow-body guitar amplified by a microphone in the old-school technique. The result is a robust, natural, almost horn-like sound that allows him an array of dynamic choices and tonal colors. Vocally, Wamble also displays growth, as on the opening track, the melancholy "If I Live to See the Day," which finds him lamenting the current paucity of peace and truth in the world. The track has a compelling Wayne Shorter-esque harmonic conception, and Wamble's burnished and supple vocals recall Kurt Elling. Similarly, Wamble digs into the traditional gospel hymn "Rockin' Jerusalem," showcasing his deft E-Bow skills on the bluesy and infectious track, which also features label owner Branford Marsalis on a burning tenor sax solo.

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