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Eddie Turner – Rise – NorthernBlues NBM0027

Articles / CD Reviews
Date: Mar 03, 2005 - 07:37 AM
Reviewed by: John Taylor Email: john.taylor@ca.ey.com

Once upon a time – and it wasn’t all that long ago – the blues were both easy to define and instantly recognizable. In recent years, though, the form’s been pushed and pulled in directions the genre’s originators could never have imagined. But while today’s innovators might chafe at convention and reject the constraints of tradition, with some there‘s simply no mistaking the blue heartbeat at the core of their work. Enter Eddie Turner, whose debut as leader doesn’t follow any patterns and isn’t restricted by pre-conceived notions of what is and isn’t blues. Yet every note on “Rise” is drenched in shades of the very deepest blue.

Turner first garnered attention through his work with Otis Taylor, contributing guitar to five of Taylor’s discs; that and previous work with hard rockers Zephyr earned him comparisons to Jimi Hendrix. Turner’s fretwork has been described as both psychedelic and otherworldly, and with “Rise” he continues to take his six-string explorations into uncharted territory with uniformly excellent results.

But while Turner’s searing guitar is the dominant voice here, he’s not about flash or razzle-dazzle, preferring instead to layer thick slabs of sound over crunching percussion and thudding bass courtesy of producer Kenny Passerelli, another alumnus of Taylor’s band. Passerelli also contributes ‘pocket trumpet’ and keyboards that range from gut-bucket B3 to deliberately cheesy electric piano, on occasion within the space of a single song. Together the two create intricately textured sounds, often multi-tracking multiple electric guitars over a foundation of acoustic guitar.

Turner wrote or co-wrote ten of the disc’s twelve tracks, with covers including a relatively straightforward “Wind Cries Mary” (the Hendrix connection again) and a radical reworking of Johnny “Guitar” Watson’s “Gangster Of Love.” His concerns run a little deeper than standard blues themes, ranging from social issues (the title track, “Privileged Life, and the somewhat pedantic “Confusion Illusion”), to grand themes of sin and redemption (the almost-acapella “Sin”). All feature an edgy urgency that borders on frightening – these are blues for a scary, post-modern world. And it’s to Turner’s credit that he refuses to temper his passions with anything approaching ‘commercial consideration.’ There’s nary a shuffle to be found here, and Turner and Passerelli aren’t above the inclusion of looped programming, so this isn’t an outing likely to appeal to purists. And Turner’s vision, though tempered at the core with hope and promise of redemption, can at least superficially seem unrelentingly dark.

Again, though, while this is music full of surprises, with the rewards for attentive listening coming fast and furious, it’s also unmistakably rooted, if not so much in the structure then in the place where the blues come from. It’s far too personal a statement to assume a mantle as broad as the ‘future of the form,’ but it’s invigorating and inspiring proof that the blues do indeed have many shades, and there’s ample opportunity to bring the music into a modern age without sacrificing its integrity nor losing any of its raw, sweaty honesty.

A fine release by a significant and important voice – recommended!

www.northernblues.com


This article comes from eJazzNews.com : The Number One Jazz News Resource On The Net
http://ejazznews.com/

 

 


 

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