Sunday, February 08, 2015

Raphael Wressnig: Soul Gumbo - DownBeat

Raphael Wressnig
Soul Gumbo

Austrian organist Raphael Wressnig is a loyal student of the New Orleans sound. This album is the culmination of all his study sessions, aided by some of the best practitioners on the Gulf Coast. The problem? Too many guests. Wressnig becomes more of a curator than a bandleader, showcasing the songwriting, vocal and instrumental skills of great New Orleans talent on six out of nine tunes. Still, it all adds up to an engaging compilation of soul-jazz and adult contemporary pop.

Walter "Wolfman" Washington offers the strongest cameo with his tune "I Want To Know." The weary slow-jam features a classic horn riff and a guitar solo from Washington that is a master class in economy and soul. The frenetic instrumental "Mustard Greens<" one of four Wressnig originals, features searing solos from both the leader and guitarist Alex Schultz. Wressnig's nods to Young-Holt Unlimited and Stevie Wonder exemplify his more populist approach and pianist Jon Cleary's inoffensive tune "Sometimes I Wonder" comes across as a little more yacht rock than Frankie Ford's "Sea Cruise." Wressnig has a great memento from his time in New Orleans. But after listening to this album, it is still rather difficult to define Wressnig's own goals.

Raphael Wressnig @ DownBeat

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