American Music Texas Style
The jazziest bluesman since T-Bone Walker, Clarence Gatemouth Brown conjures up his swinging magic on American Music Texas Style (Blue Thumb 314 547 536-2; 55:36). An admirable followup to his 1997 big band offering, Gate Swings, this one features a large ensemble conducted and arranged once again by New Orleans' Wardell Quezergue and includes such high powered soloists as Wynton Marsalis' alto sax man Wessell Anderson, tenor players Tony Dagradi and Eric Traub, who exchange fiery fours on Sal Nistico's instrumental "Front Burner," and trumpeter Nicholas Payton, who appears on two Duke Ellington pieces, "I'm Beginning to See the Light" and "Don't Get Around Much Anymore," and also on the Jay McShann vehicle "Jumpin' the Blues." A large part of the project is instrumental-vibrant shuffles, uptempo burners (like "Gate Swings Again" and "Jumpin the Blues") and haunting slow blues (like "Swamp Ghost")-allowing Gate to really step up in the soloing department. His fingerpicked guitar lines, always agile and full of funky vitality, never sounded better. At age 75, he is indeed a national treasure.