Jimmy Vivino review May 7, 2013…

JIMMY VIVINO AND THE BLACK ITALIANS

13 LIVE

BLIND PIG CD  BPCD 5153

FAT MAN–SOULFUL DRESS–FROM A BUICK 6–FAST LIFE RIDER–FOOL’S GOLD–HEAVEN IN A PONTIAC–ANIMALISM–LIGHT UP OR LEAVE ME ALONE–WHAT DO I HAVE TO DO (TO PROVE MY LOVE TO YOU)–MISS MONA–MAGGIE’S FARM–SONG FOR LEVON–SHAPE I’M IN

 

Guitarist, writer and vocalist Jimmy Vivino has been Conan O’ Brien’s musical director since Day One waay back in 1993.  Aside from his nightly gig, tho, Jimmy has recorded sets under his own name and has guested on countless others.  He also played with The Black Italians, a highly-diverse group of musicians who originally played behind Johnnie Johnson, and also at the legendary NYC watering hole, Downtime.  Jimmy re-assembled this cast of characters for two shows at Levon Helm’s fabled Woodstock barn studio, on November 30, 2012.  The result is this CD, “13 Live,” which covers a wide spectrum of music and genres’, and also gives these special players a chance to strut their considerable stuff.

With a revolving group of lead vocalists, this whole thing comes at you like one of the old R & B “package shows” from back in the day.  And, there’s a definite New Orleans influence in several of the cuts, too.  Check out the leadoff “Fat Man,” “Light Up Or Leave Me Alone,” and the sweetly-soulful “Miss Mona.”  Catherine Russell jumps the joint with a rollicking “Soulful Dress,” then does her best James Brown git-down on “What Do I Have To Do,” before turning in a deep, bluesy read of a woman who had it all, but traded it in for some “Fool’s Gold.”  Felix Cabrera blasts thru the supercharged funk of “Animalism,” reminiscent of Lee Oskar and War, while Jimmy’s blues guitar is at its fiery, blazing best on Johnny Winter’s “Fast Life Rider.”  The set closes with everyone joining in on a sweet read of The Band’s “The Shape I’m In.”

We had two favorites, too.  Jimmy’s poignant “Song For Levon” reminds us that “It’s not what you take with you, but what you leave behind.”  And, there’s a little bit of Chuck Berry in all of us, and Jimmy’s shines thru in the wailin’ “Heaven In A Pontiac.”  With Felix’s harp honkin’ in the background, this one rocks like a 21ST Century “Tulane.”

With “13 Live,” Jimmy Vivino And The Black Italians brought this music to an appreciative crowd on that November day, and now for all of us to enjoy.  Truly, this is a set that is keepin’ the faith!  Until next time….Sheryl and Don Crow.

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