Mitch Woods

Gumbo Blues

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Mitch Woods returns to the Crescent City to record this follow-up to his rollicking 2006 effort Big Easy Boogie. The guest list is a bit less impressive this time, but he does manage to rope in saxmen Amadee Castenell and Brian Cayolle from Allen Toussaint's band, Herb Hardesty from Fats Domino's group, Dr. John's guitarist John Fohl, Bonerama drummer Eric Bolivar, and bass player Cornell Williams from Jon Cleary's outfit. The set list concentrates on numbers made popular, at least down in New Orleans, by jump blues belter Smiley Lewis. Lewis started singing in Dixieland and jump blues combos before making the transition to the new music called rock & roll. Woods also made his rep playing jump, swing, and boogie, so dusting off Smiley's hits makes perfect sense. The album opens with the title track. Fohl supplies some clanging early R&B guitar, the saxmen wail, and Woods lays down a cheeky vocal and his usual exemplary boogie-woogie piano. The groove-heavy "Lil' Liza Jane" gets a romping workout with horn work that brings to mind the yackety sax of King Curtis. Woods takes on "Blue Monday," eschewing Fats Domino's arrangement with a jazzy solo by Fohl. The band blazes through "Can't Stop It," "Shame, Shame, Shame," and "Bumpity Bump." They add a salacious bump-and-grind vibe to "Big Mamou" and slow down "I Hear You Knockin'" to make it sound even more hopeless than Smiley's original. Like Big Easy Boogie, Gumbo Blues is a romp from start to finish.

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