Jeff Golub / Brian Auger

Train Keeps a Rolling

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That guitarist Jeff Golub was able to record Train Keeps a Rolling at all is something of a miracle. In 2011, the optic nerves in the guitarist's eyes mysteriously and inexplicably collapsed, leaving him blind and in need of a guard dog. In September of 2012, while trying to catch the subway in New York, Golub fell onto the tracks as a train was approaching. He was clipped and dragged for a distance, but amazingly, other than cuts and bruises, he was unhurt. This makes the occasion of his 12th studio offering a special one. To mark it, his longtime co-producer Bud Harner suggested that he collaborate with one of his personal heroes, British keyboard giant Brian Auger. They enlisted drummer Steve Ferrone from Auger's Oblivion Express and bassist Derek Frank, who had also worked with the keyboardist. Various tracks are augmented by guests, including a four-piece horn section, percussionist Luis Conte, and vocalists Christopher Cross, Ambrosia's David Pack, and Alex Ligertwood (former Oblivion Express and Santana frontman). The program opens with a bright, funky reading of Lalo Schifrin's "The Cat" that accents the intuitive interplay between the B-3 and Golub's guitar playing. There are three Auger compositions too, including a new reading of the slinky jazz-rock nugget "Happiness Is Just Around the Bend" with Ligertwood reprising his Oblivion Express vocal role. More outstanding are the punchy, horn-drenched funk of "Shepherds Bush Market," which Auger wrote specifically for the date, and the previously unissued "Isola Natale," with its jazzy Latin groove. Pop rears its head in a sophisticated read of Paul Carrack's "How Long," beautifully sung by Cross, and ramped up soul-jazz appears in an instrumental take on Curtis Mayfield's iconic "Pusherman," with a terrific horn chart and a monster B-3 solo. Golub shines throughout, but particularly on the ironically dubbed title track, which commences as a frenetic tropical salsa before giving way to steamy, Latin-fused jazz-rock. The only weak spots here are in the workmanlike version of the Police's "Walking on the Moon" and the Mose Allison-influenced read of Willie Dixon's "I Love the Life I Live"; both could have been left off without consequence. By and large, however, Train Keeps a Rolling is proof positive that you can't keep a great musician down; it is inspired, kinetic, and chock-full of fine playing and arranging.

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