Reese Wynans review…March 11, 2019….

REESE WYNANS AND FRIENDS

SWEET RELEASE

J AND R ADVENTURES JRA 61072

CROSSFIRE–SAY WHAT?–THAT DRIVING BEAT–YOU’RE KILLING MY LOVE–SWEET RELEASE–SHAPE I’M IN–HARD TO BE–RIVIERA PARADISE–TAKE THE TIME–SO MUCH TROUBLE–I’VE GOT A RIGHT TO BE BLUE–SOUL ISLAND–BLACKBIRD

If you’ve been a fan of great music sometime within the last 40 or so years, then you’ve heard Rock And Roll Hall of Famer Reese Wynans whether you knew it or not.  The consummate keyboard man, able to play anything for anybody in any style, he’s played behind Boz Scaggs, Mike Farris, Doyle Bramhall and Doyle Bramhall II, Jimmy Hall, and countless others, but gained perhaps his biggest notoriety playing with SRV and Double Trouble.  Hard to believe that this iconic musician has never released a solo album, but, “Sweet Release” becomes his first.  Also, it marks a first time for someone else–this marks Joe Bonamassa’s first time as an album producer, and features co-producers, guitarist Josh Smith, and horn man Paulie Cerra.

This album is a celebration of Reese and his many contributions to music over the years.  The love and good times are in abundant supply throughout.  Of the thirteen cuts several are readily identifiable with Reese’s work behind SRV and Double Trouble, while others hearken back to his days with Boz Scaggs, and his penchant for the music of pioneers such as Tampa Red and Otis Rush.  And, you can always count on some brilliant instrumentals, too.

The set begins with a SRV staple, “Crossfire,” this time with the mighty Sam Moore on vocals, and the Double Trouble rhythm section, Chris Layton and Tommy Shannon.  Kenny Wayne Shepherd and Jack Pearson are on guitars, along with the Texicali Horns.  Mike Farris and Paulie Cerra brew up a Memphis soul stew with Willie Mitchell’s “That Driving Beat,” with Reese’s B-3 the perfect complement.  The set closes with two instrumentals.  First, the breezy, sax-and-B-3-fueled, “Soul Island,”  followed by Reese sitting at the grand piano for the finale, a message of both freedom and sadness, Lennon and McCartney’s “Blackbird.”

We had a slew of favorites.  Reese and the fellows give a spirited read of Tampa Red’s “So Much Trouble,” with Joe Bonamassa on vocals and guitar and the venerable Mike Henderson on harp!  The other Tampa Red tune is done up “old-school,” as it was written, with Reese on piano and Keb’ Mo’ on guitar and vocals, “I Got A Right To Be Blue!”  Lastly, Kenny Wayne Shepherd and Josh Smith share guitar and vocals on a song from the 1990’s Doyle Bramhall project, the Arc Angels, a rockhouse blueser entitled “The Shape I’m In,” with an extended piano break from Reese.

Damn, y’all.  For a debut solo set, “Sweet Release” rocks the house from the jump.  Reese Wynans’ place in rock history is secured, but this album puts the cherry on top of the sundae, and having the opportunity to review an album from an artist of Reese’s stature has been a pleasure and a privilege.  Thank you, Reese, for a lifetime of great blues!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.

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