ELLERSOUL RECORDS ER–1508–21
DISC ONE: BLUE MOON–FLAMINGO–MR. NICK–THE NEARNESS OF YOU–ODE TO BILLY JOE–SECRET LOVE–SEPTEMBER SONG–THE PREACHER–UNDECIDED–BILLY HANCOCK INTERVIEW PART 1
DISC TWO: DEEP PURPLE–A FOGGY DAY IN LONDON TOWN–GEORGIA–JAMBALAYA–JAMBALAYA (ALTERNATE TAKE)–JUST A GIGOLO–JUST A GIGOLO (ALTERNATE TAKE)–LET’S GET HIGH–PENNIES FROM HEAVEN–PLEASE RELEASE ME–WALKIN’ WITH MR. LEE–YOUR CHEATIN’ HEART–YOUR CHEATIN’ HEART (ALTERNATE TAKE)–BILLY HANCOCK INTERVIEW PART 2
Joe Stanley was a legend, indeed. As a vital player in the bustling Washington, D. C. area blues, jazz and R & B scene in the 50’s and 60’s, he could hold his own with the best sax men in the business, because he was one of ’em. This two-disc posthumous release from EllerSoul Records is produced by drummer Big Joe Maher, with whom Joe played in the years immediately preceding his death in 2007.
Joe grew up in an era where, if you couldn’t play and sing anything popular on the radio, you couldn’t keep a gig. Thus, over the course of these two discs, Joe regales us with vintage jazz, blues, R & B, and even country. That’s why he was such an in-demand player with the likes of Fats, Big Joe Turner, Charlie Daniels, and Roy Clark. And, as further testimony to his musical heritage, he also was a cousin to Mickey Gilley and Jerry Lee Lewis!
Disc One chronicles some of Joe’s classic jazz and swing combo works. Each features Joe on sax, with EllerSoul labelmate John Cocuzzi on keys, and both have ample opportunities for outstanding solos. The lone vocal is Joe on “The Nearness Of You,” with a decidedly-bluesy, struttin’ take on Bobbie Gentry’s “Ode To Billy Joe,” which served as our favorite.
Disc Two has a bit more of an “edge” to it–it is done in a live setting, and has Big Joe Maher on drums, John Cocuzzi on piano, and Ivan Appelrouth on guitar. The emphasis here is more on Joe’s vocals, and he proves he can sing any song and sing it well, with varied styles in play. Evidence his jazzy read on “A Foggy Day In London Town,” “Pennies From Heaven,” and a rowdy, good-time read of “Just A Gigolo.” His country lineage shows thru on sweet takes of “Please Release Me,” “Jambalaya,” and “Your Cheatin’ Heart.” Our favorite was a blistering tribute to one of his contemporaries, the great Lee Allen, with “Walkin’ With Mr. Lee.”
Each disc close with an interview with Billy Hancock, who spins endearing tales of growing up and playing in the various clubs, integrating predominantly-black clubs, and being a “jack-of-all-trades” to keep a gig!
Joe Stanley was not only a top-notch musician and vocalist, he was a pioneer in the early days of R & B, and a man who gave back to the musical community much more than he received. “Legend” serves as a fitting tribute to this great player! Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.