Get Down With
The Blues, Tone-Cool CD TC 1153, 1995 (57:54)
Hot licks, scrunchy sound
Well, send your congratulations to Tony Zamagni, care of
Tone Cool records. This is one fine debut record from an
outstanding blues musician.
Apparently, Tony Zs been hiding out on the road
with the likes of the Platters and Ronnie Earl just waiting
for his chance to spring. And man, has he sprung. Tony says
his main influences are "the two Jimmies," Smith
and McGriff. When you feel comfortable pulling those names
out of the hat, youd better have something to show for
it. He doesin spades.
The first thing you notice is that theres some
real life in these boys. Sounds like somebody wanted to make
a record real bad. The excellent liner notes will fill you
in on Tonys whole storypiano lessons in the
convent to seasoned road warrior. They dont say where
he picked up his ear for writing. Nine of the ten tunes were
penned by Tony, and theyre not all just your
fathers I IV V. He manages to toss in some pretty
tasty, pretty subtle little twists, particularly on the
Thats not to say they dont get down and
shuffle. How could you not get down with Bernard Purdie,
Duke Robillard and Houston Person in tow? Purdies as
pretty as everhe kicks the band through the changes
and knocks a huge hole in it in the process (will he never
quit?). And it goes without saying that Robillard and Person
deliver according to their respective legendary statures.
The recording is very fine. Very crisp, very tart and
very dynamic. The kind that makes your face scrunch up when
the guitar bends into a blue note or the organ slides into
home. And slide it does. Forget the solo chops. Tony Z can
cut it with the best of them, but those years on the road
have whittled his comping sensibilities to a razor edge. He
can chop offbeats and swirl shimmering backing textures
behind a soloist like nobodys business.
If theres one nit to pick with this record,
its the vocals. To my ears, Tony has plenty to say on
the organyoud think that writing, playing and
producing would be just about enough for anybody.
Theres just no keeping some people down. If there are
two nits to pick, its the choice of fadeouts over real
endings on several tunes. I know these guys can end a tune,
and I want to hear the whole thing. Give it to me, Tony.
Dont keep it in the can.
You know, a friend of mine once called Jimmy McGriff the
Carlos Santana of the Hammond organ. Today, I declare Tony Z
the Stevie Ray Vaughan of the B-3. If youre not
hollerin "Yeah!" along with the record,
Im coming over to check your pulse. Tune in, turn it
up, and get down. Jason Staczek
Tony Zamagni, Hammond B-3 organ, vocals; Duke Robillard,
guitar; Bernard Purdie, drums; Houston Person, saxophone;
Johnny B. Gayden, bass; Sugar Blue, harmonica on one song.
Produced by Tony Zamagni; engineered by David Axelbaum;
mastered by Dr. Toby Mountain.
of related interest
Melvin Rhyne Quartet
Boss Organ, Criss Cross Jazz CD 1080,