304 North Cardinal St.
Dorchester Center, MA 02124
304 North Cardinal St.
Dorchester Center, MA 02124
Bluesdoodles rating: 3 Doodle Paws – a great listen with many different highlights to investigate: sure, it isn’t blues or rock, but there is plenty to enjoy, whatever your genre preference.
Michigan man, Joseph Veloz, has released the follow up to his debut album, Offerings. On it he has assembled a dazzling array of talent and this band gives rise to the album title…Joseph Veloz and the Velozians. At least I’m guessing that’s where it comes from rather than the planet Velos: on the other hand! JV has an ethos that resonates, as he says on his website: “Music can reach every person in a different way but there is no doubt that it can change your life, give hope, express love, and heal your soul. I plan to continue sharing what inspires me for as long as I am able.” He is a bass player and vocalist and he feeds those thoughts into music that, as a (failed) bass player, I can really relate to…fear not, the vast band of musicians he has in tow include some sterling guitar and keyboards too. The only time I heard his instinctive bass playing was on the delectable Joanne Shaw Taylor’s Songs From The Road live release, and I noted then that he did her songs proud. He has also mastered something that eluded me on the rare occasions I’ve tried it…the five-string bass guitar. JV uses that extra string to great effect, whereas it just confused the hell out of me!
To the music: opening with Pretty Is As Pretty Does, languid trumpet introduces a funky but bluesy number where JV’s skill on bass becomes obvious as he uses subtle patterns that adds to the atmosphere and then we get a lovely guitar solo that is very fluid and, may seem a bit out of place on first listen, but it soon makes sense.
I Got My Mojo Working is, of course, one of McKinley Morganfield’s compositions. Otherwise known as Muddy Waters, his wonderful song has been covered a myriad of times and JV adapts it for a female singer (the excellent Thornetta Davis): more great bass and the guitar/organ work as they back the song with some great interplay and then their neat solos brings a different outlook to this standard. The ending shifts gear into a Chicago shuffle with some gospel thrown in…and some more solos too. The Velozian Shuffle is err, a shuffle, but with so much variation: from Green Onions styled start to a mellow, yet very good guitar solo. This is followed by a piano, then organ section and with the bass again pinning everything down and the snare work is intuitive. I was hoping for a bass solo, but this instrumental has everything else it would be trite to moan.
Mr Cooper is a clever blues/rock/soul hybrid that soon draws you in. The guitar solo is excellent, if short, and the basic riff is simple but very effective. What You Won’t Do For Love was a hit for Bobby Caldwell that flew well below my radar in 1978, especially as I believe it is a disco song that fitted well with others of that ilk, while I was listening to heavy rock. Whatever, it is transformed into a funky instrumental by JV that has a dead sounding drum machine, I think, but get past that and it has a lot going for it…not least the pedal treated bass solo I was hoping for. Crazy was a hit for someone called Gnarls Barkley…now I stopped listening to radio years ago and only listened to my blues and rock via tape, then CD then iPod in the car, and CD at home, so I have heard of but not heard him (I thought the name was Dennis the Menace’s canine companion!) or the song. I did seek it out so I could compare and, in my humble, this soulful reading is faithful but more layered and, with Thornetta on vocals, it is way more listenable to these rock and blues ears.
Just Jammin’ (Again) is, of course, a jam session with jazz and funk to the fore. The wah’d guitar, bongos and keys make this sound like it should have been on that great star-studded session album, Music From Free Creek which, if you don’t know it, is a compliment. The final track, Up In My Ear, brings some slide into the funk equation and so brings a blues, rock sense to the proceedings and is a nice way to close.
This is a very enjoyable album with many different highlights to investigate: sure, it isn’t blues or rock, but there is plenty to relish, whatever your genre preference.
Track listing – composer:
Pretty Is As Pretty Does – Andrew Thomas, Joseph Veloz
I Got My Mojo Working – McKinley Morganfield
The Velozian Shuffle – Jim Alfredson
Mr. Cooper – Tim O’Donnell
What You Won’t Do For Love – Alfons Kettner, Bobby Caldwell
Crazy – Anton Ransome, Kimeyo J Daniels, Varina Dyshaun Ellis Generale
Just Jammin’ (Again) – Joseph Veloz
Up In My Ear – Joseph Veloz
Drew Abbott – All Guitars (8)
Jim Alfredson – Keyboards (1-8)
James Anderson – Percussionist (3 & 7)
Donny Brown – Drums (1,2,4,6 & 8)
Sam Corey – All Saxaphones (5)
Thornetta Davis – Vocals (2 & 6)
Phillip J Hale – Piano (3 & 7)
Larry McCray – Vocals and All Guitars (1)
Dave Marcaccio – Drums (3 & 7)
Roseann Matthews – Background Vocals (2 & 6)
Rosemere Matthews – Background Vocals (2 & 6)
Tim O’Donnell – Vocals and Guitars (4)
John Rickert – Trumpet (1)
Scott VanDell – Guitar (6)
Carlton Washington – All Guitars (2,3 & 7)
Joseph Veloz – Bass (1-8), Vocals (8) Funk-wah Guitar (4)
(iTunes took me to the blues of Josh White who has a string of very good albums out over a period from the 30s, when he used the name Pinewood Tom. My collection includes a few of his compilations and, from Nothin’ But The Blues, I listened to the jollier than it sounds, piano and guitar Friendless City Blues…another oft-overlooked great of years gone by.)