Solid Blues Records
Canadian JW Jones released his debut album in 2000. Since then he has recorded with Kim Wilson, Charlie Musselwhite, Little Charlie Baty, Hubert Sumlin, David “Fathead” Newman, and others. His eighth album, “High Temperature”, won the award for “Best Self-Produced CD” at the 2017 International Blues Challenge. His last release 2018’s “Live” was recorded at La Basoche – Centre Cultural de Vieux Aylmer in Quebec, Ontario. In 2020 Jones, representing the Ottawa Blues Society, returned to the IBC and won the “Gibson Guitar Award”, presented to the best band guitarist.
Jones, with the award under his belt, was looking forward to a great year of touring before the pandemic side-lined his plans. He states “I knew I had to do something productive to stay positive. I turned isolation into inspiration! I bought recording hardware and taught myself how to use it. I took some tracks my band recorded last year…re-recorded all of the vocals, added a new guitar solo to one track, played a second rhythm guitar on another, and the band did drum and bass overdubs. My wife Brit sings harmonies on several tracks, bringing a classic vibe to the jump blues…the engineer Eric Eggleston of Johnny Hall productions, shared his screen and audio live over the internet…and we did the mixing and production from our homes.”
The four-piece core band includes Jones, guitar and vocals; Jesse Whitely, keyboards; Jacob Clarke, bass and harmony vocals; and Will Laurin, drums and harmony vocals. Recorded before the pandemic and already in the can was the 13-piece horn section including five saxophones, four trombones, and four trumpets.
The coming of age tune “Blue Jean Jacket”, co-written by Jones with Tom Hambridge and Richard Fleming, features co-producer Eggleston adding harmony to Jones’ lead, as Jones takes his solo. On my favorite the soul stirring “Same Mistakes”, written with Richard Cooper, Jones sings “she makes the same mistakes over and over, over and over again, I know ‘cause I’m one of them”, this time Brit supplies the harmony. The horn arrangements on these are from Kaz Kazanoff of The Texas Horns. On a third original “Ain’t Gonna Beg” the horns are arranged by keyboardist Whiteley.
Five fabulous covers follow. The Allen A. Jones and Mickey Gregory composed “Drowning On Dry Land” was a 1969 single released by Albert King on Stax Records; Jones’ funky version features the rhythm section of Clarke and Laurin. “Bye, Bye Love” written by the husband and wife songwriting team of Felice and Boudleaux Bryant was the first single released by The Everly Brothers in 1957; featured is Whiteley on piano. Jones’ rhythm guitar is fabulous on the funky George Jackson composed “Snatchin’ It Back”, recorded by Clarence Carter in 1969. The soul-jazz “it’s Obdacious” first recorded by Buddy Johnson And His Orchestra in 1955 features a sax solo by Jeff Pighin. Jones’ best vocal is on Guitar Slim’s 1970 “The Things That I Used To Do”. The closer “When It All Comes Down (I’ll Still Be Around)” was written by Will Jennings and Joe Sample and recorded by B.B. King in 1978. These are fine new versions from producers Jones’ and Eggleston.
We live in difficult times, this new album from JW Jones, is just what the doctor ordered.