Release Date:
Aug 25, 2009

Reviewed by:
Shannon West

Fry up something greasy and grab a cold one to chase it down with.  Jeff Golub is bringin' home the blues and it will make ya wanna get down and dirty.  Blues For You delivers the music Golub has been dropping hints about for most of his recordings as a "smooth jazz" artist.  The nuances have been scattered in sneaky solos over almost his entire body of work, and the all out rockin' party vibe has been the essence of his live performances. It's not that he was holding back as much as he was doing other things ranging from the blues-shaded, smooth Avenue Blue, to the glossy sophistication of Temptation, to Out of the Blue's all out fusion, and the loose, live feel of Grand Central and Soul Sessions.

Golub said, "I don't really differentiate between styles of music.  It's either from the heart or it's not.  I think there are many people who feel like I do.  That even though we love a more sophisticated jazz approach, we can still appreciate the emotion of a bent guitar string."  And a blaring horn section, raunchy B-3, roadhouse piano, feedback and fuzztones.

Blues For You was produced by John Porter, who has worked with an impressive roster of  bluesmen including  Buddy Guy, Otis Rush, Taj Mahal, and John Lee Hooker - artists who heavily influenced the music that has become classic rock.  If you remember those early albums from bands like Cream, John Mayall, and the Jeff Beck Group, this one is going to feel like it came directly off that line, and showed up intact several decades later.  The whole album was recorded in four days with a single group of musicians - drummer Shawn Pelton (Saturday Night Live Band), Tony Garnier on bass (Bob Dylan, Tom Waits), and Kenny White on keyboards (Peter Wolf, Shawn Colvin, Marc Cohn,) and a horn section (David Woodford, Rick Braun, Nick Lane).  Nothing is programmed.  It sounds like a group of stellar musicians playing one long, and rather astonishing, live gig.  Kirk Whalum has a guest shot, along with an intriguing array of vocalists: Peter Wolf, John Waite, Marc Cohn and Billy Squier.  Whalum's jam with Golub on "Goin' On," is a jaw-dropper.  For awhile they keep it cool, then Golub fires up a solo and Whalum matches it with a powerful, in-your-face barrage of notes.  Squier puts on a Dylan voice for an acoustic blues take on his hit "Everybody Wants You."  It sounds incongruous, but it works.  Cohn and Waite get vintage material from Mose Allison.  Cohn sounds like an old jazz-blues guy on "I Don't Worry Bout A Thing," and Waite belts out "Lost Mind."  Wolf's rousing "Rooster Blues" is party-ready from the start.  "Shuffleboard," the opener, defines the instrumental territory that the album is going to cover.  It's rousing and raunchy - punctuated by a horn section, and Chris Palmero delivering a Hammond B3 line straight out of a Memphis Stax/Volt soul classic.  "In The Blink of An Eye" is a Jeff Beck type ballad with a searing lead guitar.  He also covers blues greats Freddie King ("Fish Fare") and Albert King ("I'll Play The Blues For You").

This collection of songs covers pretty much every facet of contemporary blues and blues-rock music, both vocal and instrumental.  Through all of this there is Golub's guitar.  He bends and stretches notes, shreds out lightning fast solos then shifts to expressive nuances, throws in some jazzy blues chords, and flips from clean precision to blasts of distortion.  It's a total showcase for Golub and all the musicians involved.  This music is timeless.  You could hear it on a renegade FM in the late 60s, in a bar down the street this Friday night, or in whatever kind of listening device you play it on 10 years from now.  It's not "smooth jazz."  But then a lot of us originally got into contemporary jazz for the same reason we got into progressive rock - it was more interesting than standard pop fare and a lot more exciting.  Don't tiptoe toward this one because it isn't in the smooth jazz box.  Grab it and run with it because the musicianship is incredible.  It doesn't sound like everything else you own and most importantly, it's flat out fun to listen to.