11 Guys Quartet review…December 30, 2019…..

11 GUYS QUARTET

SMALL BLUES AND GROOVES

VIZZTONE RECORDS   VT-1141

ROAD TRIPPIN–JACKRABBIT–SWEET TASTE–DOGGIN’ IT–SLEEPLESS–EAST CAMBRIDGE CANNONBALL–SPEAKEASY SERENADE–FOUR MAYPOPS–DOWN AND DIRTY–SWING LOW–HEY DADDYO–MIDNIGHT STREETVCAR–RHUMBA BOGALOO–SWAMP RIDE

Back in the early Eighties, guitarist Paul Lenart, bassist Coach Mather, drummer Chuck Purro, and harpman (and Vizztone Records president) Richard “Rosy” Rosenblatt were one helluva blues quartet, tearin’ up clubs all over the Boston area.  They also hold the distinction of having the debut release (on vinyl, of course), of the Tone-Cool label.  They were known back then as the 11TH Hour Band.  Time changes everything, and the fellows all pursued other musical avenues, but, they always had that “chemistry” as a group.  In 2008, the fellows decided to record an album of all-original instrumentals, but they put the whole thing on ice for yet another decade.  Finally, “Small Blues And Grooves” from the 11 Guys Quartet is available for blues fans everywhere to enjoy!

The party starts with “Road Trippin’, a smooth groove set over a Freddie King-ish arrangement.  “Jackrabbit” rocks along at a frenetic pace, and whether the guys intended to or not, we heard an element of old-time gospel down that rabbit hole!  “Sleepless” is an excellent foray into slow blues, while Paul’s guitar takes on a grungy tone in the push-and-pull between guitar and harp that is “Down And Dirty.”  “Hey Daddyo” will get you in a Mardi Gras mood, as will the strut of “Rhumba Boogaloo.”

The set closed with our favorite.  “Swamp Ride” will sho’ nuff take you right into Ernie Young’s Excello recording booth, and that back-scratchin’ riff makes this one a cool take on a vintage style.

The 11 Guys Quartet haven’t missed a beat since their mid-Eighties’ heyday.  “Small Blues And Grooves”  are instrumentals the way they ought to be–nothing real fancy, and every song clocks in at no more than four minutes or so.  Guys, this is the stuff that never gets old, and thanks for sharing these with us blues fans all over the whole round world!  Until next time….Sheryl and Don Crow.

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