Arizona Club Music [Release date 23.09.14]
‘Jimmy McIntosh And…’ is a thoughtful and well played album that combines blues, fusion, funk, rock and even moments of free form playing, on a dozen tracks with variety, a coherently flow and Jimmy’s unique musical imprint.
In short, ‘Jimmy McIntosh And…’ is an album that celebrates the joy of collaborative playing and crossover genres by a guitarist who balances feel with taste and original arrangements well suited to his guests.
The ‘And..’ adjunct refers to his A-list guests, including guitarist Ronnie Wood – who features on the short opening bluesy instrumental and intense boogie outro that tops and tails the album – as well as Mike Stern and John Scofield.
He’s also well served by drummer Toss Panos, who knows when to push and when to hold back, while both Albert Wing’s earthy sax tones and Ivan Neville’s organ and piano work bring different colour to the palette.
The album kicks in with the tightly wrapped funk of ‘The Logue’, on which McIntosh’s guitar and Ivan Neville’s organ both surge.
Guest guitarist John Scofield appears on the New Orleans groove ‘Letsco’ alongside Ivan’s organ stabs and earthy fills which supplement McIntosh and Scofield’s conversational guitars. The guitar duo fill their musical canvas with tonal colours, from edgy distortion to a deep echoing tone that sound as if it was recorded at the bottom of a deep well!
‘Letsco’ is arguably the most complete track on the album as the rhythm section push and pull and the groove. It’s glued together by organ pulses, as the meandering guitar parts warp themselves round the arrangement like an ivy.
The stripped down fusion and bluesy undertow of ‘Ju Ju’ is another album highlight, with resonating notes and enough space to emphasize the dynamics.
It’s full of restraint and polish. Jimmy’s ringing notes says so much and he manages to evoke both Robin Trower’s dreamy tone and Frank Zappa’s speech rhythms.
In spite of the title, ‘PM Blues’ is a fusion piece – ‘PM’ referring to Pat Metheny – featuring Mike Stern on some gently voice notes over a walking bass line and brush stroked percussion, before the piece adds urgent, pulsating guitar lines. Refreshingly, the bass solo is an integral part of the song as the rest of the band drops down, only to gently return to the groove. The two guitars interweave magically before a perfunctory finish suggests they’ve said all they need to say!
Jimmy’s reverts to solo acoustic on Duke Ellington’s ‘Sophisticated Lady’, which leads to the acoustic intro, shuffle beat and uplifting feel of ‘Lavona’s Boogie’, featuring Schofield on guitar and Neville on piano.
The Ronnie Wood/Bernard Fowler penned and gospel tinged ‘I Gotta See’, is the first of two Stones related songs, transformed from their laid back original arrangements to a celebration of their essential melody.
Albert’s deep tone sax and Ronnie and Jimmy’s jangling guitars lean into Ronnie’s heartfelt piece, while the surprisingly relaxed melody of Keith Richard’s rejigged ‘Demon’ is again given its voice by Albert Wing’s sonorous sax and some intuitive guitar support over a relentless drum sound that reminds us its a rock song.
It’s nicely juxtaposed by the live in the studio ‘32/20 Blues’ which features some crisp picking that is a nice contrast to the preceding track.
The album flows eloquently, offering plenty of musical variety and playing styles that somehow gel together to give genuine crossover feel without losing any of the intrinsic spark.
‘Back To Cali’ is an out and out fusion piece featuring Mike Stern on which Jimmy and Mike share deeply intense solos and focussed interplay, all shaped by Tanos’s drums.
It’s a measure of the album as a whole, that the track sounds as if it resolves all that has gone before. At just over the four and half minute mark it slips into overdrive as the ensemble gels beautifully, before returning to the thematic root. It’s moments like this that makes this album special. *****
Review by Pete Feenstra
Pete Feenstra presents his Rock & Blues Show on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio every Tuesday at 19:00 GMT, and “The Pete Feenstra Feature” on Sundays at 19:00
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