Putting Down Roots

Tiring, perhaps, after some 30 years of accompanying (and recording with) a wide variety of singers such as “Swamp Boogie Queen” Katie Webster, Elvin Bishop, Joe Louis Walker, Bonnie Raitt, Tommy Castro and many, many others, Bay Area tenor saxophonist Nancy Wright has finally stepped mic-side on Putting Down Roots, a collection of 12 self-penned songs, half of which feature her singing. I have to say right off that this surprised me: Nancy sings? Well, yes. However, for me her vocalizing is an acquired taste. The peppy “Well I'm Travelin'” (“My baby left me and I'm so alone”), is the only blues on the disc and her singing here and on “Seems I Still Love You” veers into country-music territory. What's her sax playing like? Still in the groove? You bet! Her big-toned tenor is very much on display throughout, especially on the relaxed “Grooving Easy.” Things get jacked up on “Boogie for JL,” a mostly one-chord drone in honor of John Lee Hooker that features a driving solo by guitarist Anthony Paule and a wild, growly solo by Wright. The music runs the gamut from the atmospheric funk of “The Big Queen” to the soulful bliss of “Sanctity in Blue.” I do wonder, though, why there are so many fade-outs.