Sean Costello is a brand name to blues aficionados. He died tragically in 2008, on the eve of his 29th birthday, just when it began to look as though his star was finally going to rise on the masses. He'd been recording since he was 16, and with his own crack band had played stages with virtually every living legend on the blues scene. Costello's knowledge of blues and jazz -- especially jump and swing jazz -- was encyclopedic in his playing and singing. This compilation collects tracks from all of three of his albums recorded between 1996 and 2002, but the majority of this 20-track set is unreleased, with smoking live cuts recorded in Chicago and Marquette, MI. There are some unreleased studio gems recorded in his hometown of Atlanta as well. Costello's best- known band featured harmonica boss Paul Linden (who also doubled -- brilliantly -- on piano), organist and pianist Matt Wauchope, bassist Melvin Zachary, and drummer Terrence Prather. These cats appear on the majority of these cuts, though there are some guest spots, including a few tracks with Matt Sickles playing upright bass. Guitarist and vocalist Susan Tedeschi sings and plays on a couple of cuts as well -- Costello began wowing the world as the guitarist in her first high-profile touring band. Pulling out specific cuts here is ludicrous because, as a collection, this is just outstanding from top to bottom. Compiled (mostly) chronologically by Michael Rothschild and Jeff Bakos, this portrait of Costello accomplishes what it is supposed to: it not only showcases a tremendous artist who was in full command of his gifts, but lets us know what we lost when he passed away. Sean's Blues is filled with great music form jump to Chicago to raucous primitive electric jazz blues; in addition, the sound here is incredible: it crackles with live energy and presence -- Costello was a star to be sure, but he fronted a smoking live blues band whose members were true collaborators in his sound. All one can do after hearing this is say "if only," and hope there is a second volume.
AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek