Igor Prado is ready to blow minds with Lay Around And Love On You feat. Sorry Drummer

Lay Around & Love on You (feat. Sorry Drummer) - SingleIgor Prado’s artistic vision seemingly knows no bounds. When the Igor Prado Band made its recording debut a dozen or so years ago, the focus was on expertly played vintage-oriented music: Charlie Christian swing and related jazz styles, urban and jump blues, a hint of roots rock. As time passed, the scope widened to encompass a broad range of blues, from the most low-down to the jazzier edges of the genre, and classic R&B and soul. Along the way, the guitarist and singer collaborated with some of the finest musicians on three continents:, including Ari Borger, keyboard maestro Raphael Wressnig, Lynwood Slim, J.J. Jackson, Junior Watson, Mitch Kashmar, Kim Wilson, Mike Welch, Curtis Salgado, Whitney Shay, and others.

In 2018, Prado made several bold moves. He recorded as a leader for the first time without the Prado Band, releasing a single (“You’re Gonna Have a Murder on Your Hands” b/w “Tell Me What’s On Your Mind”) with Justgroove that mixed slamming hard funk with silky urban soul and heavy blues guitar – something like Albert King meets Rick James at Bobby Womack’s house. His singing, which had grown stronger with each release, was dynamite.

His most recent release, the single track “Lay Around & Love On You, “ carries the music to new places. This cover of a late-period Ray Charles tune incorporates disparate elements into a modern soul-blues masterpiece. Prado lists the building blocks: a rock and roll rhythm guitar part, direct from Chuck Berry; a Bill Withers-inspired groove; funky bass; angular piano that (almost) nods to “Sex Machine”; super bad hip-hop beats from Brazilian legend, Sorry Drummer; with an Afro-Brazilian feel underneath it all. To that mixture, Prado adds sound effects; sweet, layered background vocals; a relaxed, super-soulful lead voice (with touches of auto-tune, guaranteed to blow blues fans’ minds); and, naturally, tough, straight-ahead blues guitar.

The result is like nothing we’ve heard before…or nearly so. The nearest analogue is Rick Holmstrom’s Hydraulic Groove. That genre-bending 2002 album, widely regarded as a masterpiece, proved in the end to stand alone as an object to be admired, rather than a significant influence on other artists. Until now, that is. Prado’s “Lay Around & Love On You” takes the Holmstrom soundscape – funky drums, deep grooves, great guitar playing, and the judicious application of sonic tricks and flourishes – and supercharges it with really killer vocals and a deep soul sensibility. Whether this is the beginning of a new tradition or merely a fantastic mash-up, Igor Prado has a created a challenging, jaw-dropping work of art. I can’t wait to hear what he does next.

TOM HYSLOP

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Hank Mowery • Account To Me

account to me

Hank Mowery

Account To Me

Old Pal, 2013

http://www.hankmowery.com/

The Michigan-based harmonica player and singer Hank Mowery is no newcomer, having fronted his own band The Hawktones and toured with Mike Morgan & The Crawl during the 1990s. But it was not until last year that he would record his first solo project. While Account To Me is intended in large part as a tribute to the greatly missed Gary Primich, by featuring five of his songs, including two previously unrecorded, it will also function for many as an introduction to Mowery’s estimable skills as a performer and bandleader.

The Primich songs alone offer a broad and varied stylistic palette. Perhaps the most straightforward of these, musically, is “My Home,” a hard, Texas shuffle driven by John Large’s relaxed yet insistent drumming. The liltingly melodic “Tricky Game” is clever without being precious, weaving references to Einstein and calculus into a romantic lyric. The groove and Chris Corey’s steel-drum-inspired piano suggest a lost Professor Longhair number. The uptempo cut “Put The Hammer Down,” with its creative and strong unamplified harmonica solo, is built up from the wild guitar figure Troy Amaro plays, one that could have been lifted from the Junior Watson playbook. Mowery’s smooth vocal and Amaro’s solo in “Pray For A Cloudy Day” have enough sophistication to move this Primich number into the urbane, jazzy territory of an artist like Lynwood Slim. Finally, the title song is a sweetly hushed, R&B ballad  that could have come from Chuck Willis or even Buddy Holly. Bassist Patrick Recob contributes acoustic guitar, Mowery blows plaintive harmonica, and Amaro softens his tremolo-washed electric guitar lines further with whammy-bar shimmer.

The balance of the set widens the scope considerably. Rev. Robert Wilkins’s “That Ain’t No Way To Get Along,” familiar through his own recording and the Rolling Stones’ adaptation “Prodigal Son,” goes back to the prewar years. In keeping with its country blues origins, it is performed in a duo setting, with Mowery accompanying the National resonator guitar of singer Jimmie Stagger. Interplay between Mowery’s harmonica and Corey’s wonderfully cheesy, Space Age-toned B3 highlights the rocking R&B/Latin-flavored instrumental “Banana Oil,” originally by Memphis Slim. Mowery contributes the deep and lowdown “If I Knew What I Know,” a slow blues drawn directly from the Muddy Waters well, and sparked by fine ensemble playing and fat amplified harp. “Spend A Little Time,” a Mowery/Recob collaboration, opens with a drum fill quoting “Keep A Knockin’” (and “Rock And Roll”) before veering off into another direction, developing into a Gulf Coast rocker worthy of The Fabulous Thunderbirds or Primich, arranged to lean heavily on the hard-working rhythm section, acoustic piano, and a funky, fuzz-toned Wurlitzer that fills the guitar’s spot in the mix. Recob sings his own composition “Target,” a haunting blues lope in a minor key that evokes a dream jam session between Little Walter and Grant Green.

The musicians and producer-engineer Tommy Schichtel clearly paid close attention to making and capturing incredible sounds: tones this good don’t happen by accident. Mowery and crew play expressively and with subtlety, never pressing. That unforced feel extends to the arrangements; the songs seem to go where artistry and imagination, rather than any particular stylistic preconception, have led them. Finally, Tad Robinson’s perceptive liner notes articulate the record’s origins and achievement with intelligence and grace. Account To Me, a beautiful and remarkable work, is bound to make a lasting impression.
TOM HYSLOP

I received the review copy of this CD from Mark Pucci Media.