Duke Robillard’s World Full of Blues
Guitarist Duke Robillard opens this two-CD set (one’s a bonus) with a horn-fueled jump blues that’s a nod to his storied past: Forty years ago he co-founded Roomful of Blues, which eventually developed into the solid band that backed up both Big Joe Turner and Cleanhead Vinson on record. Although Robillard had left the band several years earlier to lead his own trio—The Pleasure Kings—and subsequently linked up with the Legendary Blues Band and Fabulous Thunderbirds, he’s since gone on to record with artists as varied as jazzman Herb Ellis and the late blues/jazz pianist Jay McShann. Here he’s chosen a mixed bag of songs that support his theory that the blues influence is everywhere. One of the charms of his recordings is his comprehensive liner notes; thus we learn that on Tom Waits’ “Low Side of the Road” he tried to “retain the creepy vibe of the original while making it my own.” He also reveals what guitar(s) he plays on each track; on the Waits song he used three. Among the highlights are “Blues Nightmare,” an 8 1/2-minute slow blues song with harpist Sugar Ray Norcia, and Wardell Gray’s “Stoned” with ex-Roomful saxman Doug James on tenor.