Jack McVea sports a jacket, tie, and spectacles on the cover of McVoutie's Central Avenue Blues, looking more like a professor than a saxophonist. While he is most certainly the latter, his debonair appearance does mirror the smooth, elegant style of his horn. McVoutie's Central Avenue Blues captures the tenor/alto player in 1945 in a number of settings that mostly emphasize his R&B work. The other central figure of this disc is drummer/vocalist Rabon Tarrant, who joins McVea on 13 of the 23 tracks. Tarrant's powerful vocals on pieces like "Listen Baby Blues" and "Blues All Night" provide an agreeable contrast to McVea's silky saxophone. There's a bouncy take on "The 'G' Man Got the 'T' Man" with singer Cee Pee Johnson and a bizarre, risqué piece titled "Wiggle Wiggle Woogie" with singer Duke Henderson. Although the singers and personnel vary quite a bit, the material gels together into a pretty uniform set. There are also three instrumentals -- one kicking off the album, the other two ending it -- that allow McVea a little more room to strut his stuff. In another year, the saxophonist would strike gold with "Open the Door, Richard" and forever be associated with R&B as opposed to jazz. McVoutie's Central Avenue Blues offers a fine assortment of the saxophonist's early R&B work.
McVoutie's Central Avenue Blues Review
by Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr.