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Duke Robillard: New Blues for Modern Man

Blues veteran Duke Robillard is back with a new label and a new band. On New Blues for Modern Man (Shanachie 9017; 66:14), the talented and versatile guitarist shifts nimbly from old school rock ‘n’ roll (“Jumpin Rockin’ Rhythm”) to modern treatments of Delta classics (Charlie Patton’s “Pony Blues”) to Tex-Mex ballads (“You’re the Only One”) to a dramatic arrangement of Bob Dylan’s mounful “Love Sick.” He flashes some particularly wicked chops on his slow blues, “Dont Fool With My Love” and on his relaxed, easy-grooving shuffle “How Long,” and summons up an ominous, swampy vibe on the Dr. John-ish “Addiction.” On the funky “Fishnet,” he sings the praises of some sweet young thing decked out in a skintight, fishnet bodysuit while flaunting some of his nastiest Johnny Guitar Watson styled licks. Doug James, who contributes mightily on tenor and baritone saxes and bass clarinet, offers his original “Good Man,” a minor key blues based on Booker T & The MG’s “Green Onions.” Duke plays some downhome acoustic guitar on trumpeter Al Basile’s “Hurt Me,” which also features some fine, honking tenor work from Dennis Taylor. Tenor man Taylor and bari man Doug James also get to take their time and stretch alongside Duke on the jazzy instrumental closer “Big Bottom Blues.” The horns and the great rhythm section of upright bassist John Packer, drummer Marty Richards and pianist Tom West add immeasurably to the warm, soulful vibe of this typically robust Robillard offering.

Originally Published