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Jay Geils: Jay Geils Plays Jazz

Jay Geils, the namesake of the renowned J. Geils Band, makes a lackluster showing on his debut solo release, Jay Geils Plays Jazz! (Stony Plain). Rooted in the style of Charlie Christian, Geils seems out of his depth, rhythmically and melodically, on this assortment of big-band, organ blues and Western-swing tunes. The most novel tracks feature Jerry Miller on electric mandolin and Frankie Blandino on steel guitar. Both lend a Bob Wills flavor to Cindy Walker’s “I Hear You Talkin’ to Me,” Mel Powell’s “Mission to Moscow” and even Clifford Brown’s “Blues Walk.” Al Wilson’s Hammond organ and Scott Hamilton’s tenor sax make for some bright spots, but acoustic guitarist Gerry Beaudoin should have been given more solo room. The song choices (ranging from Benny Goodman’s “Wholly Cats” to Roland Kirk’s “Funk Underneath”) cover a broad historical range, but the session is sluggish-at times painfully so.

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