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playthebluescoverPlay the Blues
Wynton Marsalis and Eric Clapton
Label: Warner Brothers Records
Reviewed: September, 2011

As any of you know who have bothered to read any of my reviews, you know that I’m basically a rock and roller at heart with some new country thrown in now and then. Sometimes, though, there’s nothing like going back – way back to the basics of good, old fashioned jazz-blues kind of sound. People describe it in different ways but, to me, I describe it as a kind of Bourbon Street jazz-blues fusion of sorts.

Call it whatever you wish but that’s my label for it and I’m stickin’ with it.

When the Wynton Marsalis/Eric Clapton collaboration, Play the Blues, landed in my mailbox last week, I didn’t know what to expect but I knew it was going to be good. Little did I know that it was going to take me back to that Bourbon Street jazz-blues days that were before my time. Innocent days before we knew more than we should. Simple yet elegant sounds with happy, intricate melodic tapestries of fun music. I know that last sentence sounds somewhat contradictory but think about it while you listen to this CD and tell me if I’m not right.

Marsalis’ signature trumpet sound, coupled with Slow Hand’s always incredible guitar work is a historical match made in musical heaven. These two geniuses bring a sound that I seriously doubt can be replicated by anyone else who has such platinum credentials.

The disc opens with an old fashioned favorite, Ice Cream (“we all scream for ice cream!”). It makes you wish you could bum a couple of nickels off of your parents and go down to a soda shop and buy a dip of some really good ice cream and maybe go see a silent movie somewhere. I know. Those prices were about a “hunert” years ago but that’s where the music takes you.

Boomerocity favorites off of this album, though, is Wynton and Eric’s treatment of the ol’ gospel classic, Just A Closer Walk With Thee. One gets the feeling that a “Nawlins” funeral is about to come down the street. But, more than that, the guys sing it like it should be sung because it immediately took me back to some of the old time gospel song services that I experienced as a kid growing up. As they would say back then: It gave me co’ chills down my spine. This song would be worth the purchase of the whole CD just by itself.

The other Boomerocity favorite on Play the Blues is yet another version of Clapton’s “Derek and the Domino’s” hit, Layla. Think Clapton’s “Unplugged” of this tune but drenched in Bourbon Street blues and you would get a good idea of what I mean.

Great album. Great times. Great value with a DVD that comes with the CD so you can’t lose. Besides, c’mon! We’re talking Marsalis and Clapton here! Just buy the darn thing!