Like Little Milton, Little Johnny Taylor (not to be confused with the Johnnie Taylor of "Who's Making Love" and "Disco Lady" fame), Junior Parker, and Lowell Fulsom, Bobby "Blue" Bland is among the bluesmen who has done the most to define soul-flavored blues. Bland's influence has been enormous, and he is well deserving of a tribute -- which is what New Orleans bluesman Luther Kent provides on The Bobby Bland Songbook. And given that Kent himself is a blues-oriented artist who has been greatly influenced by soul, it certainly makes sense for him to pay homage to Bland. But anyone who is worried about Kent's own personality becoming obscured on The Bobby Bland Songbook need not worry. Although Kent focuses on songs that are closely identified with Bland, this album has a New Orleans flavor that the albums of Tennessee native Bland are not known for; the arrangements were handled by Crescent City icon Wardell Quezergue, and none other than Dr. John is among the keyboardists. Between Kent's input and Quezergue's, a New Orleans flavor is evident on inspired performances of "I Wouldn't Treat a Dog," "I Pity the Fool," T-Bone Walker's "Call It Stormy Monday," and other gems that Bland has included in his repertoire over the years. The Bobby Bland Songbook does not cater to blues purists; this 42-minute CD is best described as New Orleans blues meets New Orleans soul. But then, Bland has never pretended to be a blues purist -- and it's only natural that a well-rounded Bland tribute is going to acknowledge his interest in R&B. The Bobby Bland Songbook is a rewarding tribute that allows Kent to salute his non-Crescent City idol on his own Crescent City terms.
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AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson