"Instrumental Madness Test"
With Bob Putignano
Guitarist Danny Caron was the musical director and lead guitarist for the legendary Charles Brown. He has two fine solo albums Good Hands and the recent How Sweet It Is. Additional information is available at:dannycaron.com
Danny was emailed unidentified MP3 tracks prior to this interview.
Track 1: Johnnie Bassett's "Bouncing with Bassett" from the album Bassett Hound written by Bill Heid featuring Johnnie Bassett on guitar, Bill Heid on piano, Dwayne Dolphin on bass, R.J. Spangler on drums. Produced by Bill Heid and R.J. Spangler and released on Fedora Records in 1997.
I feel there are some similarities in the Blues-jazz guitar approach of Johnnie Bassettand Caron's guitar style and therefore practical to throw at Danny. It did not surprise me that Caron did not immediately know Johnnie as unfortunately Bassett is one of those great artists who never got his due. Nice connect by Caron with Herb Ellis, but Danny knew it wasn't Herb: "It certainly was in the style of Herb Ellis, but I do know what they were trying to sound like." When I mentioned R.J. Spangler's name, Caron immediately connected to Bassett, "Ah, when I saw R.J, he was playing with Johnnie Bassett." And continued, "They were playing more blues here than I remember them performing, but I do like this track a lot, and give it a rating of 8 out of a possible 10."
Track 2: Blue Mitchell's "Casa Blues" from the album Blue's Blues written by John Guerin featuring Blue Mitchell on trumpet and flugelhorn, John Mayall on harmonica, Freddy Robinson on guitar, Joe Sample on electric piano, Herman Riley on tenor sax, John Guerin on drums, Darrell Clayborn on bass. Produced by Bob Shad and released on Mainstream Records in 1972.
More jazzy blues for Danny. Once again I tried to see if he could pickup on one of my favorite guitarists Freddy Robinson. At first Danny wasn't sure who the guitarist was, but when I told Caron that the guitarist played with Mayall, "I knew it was someone like Freddy, as he reminded me a bit of Mel Brown, and I really liked Robinson's guitar solo a lot, too." Danny opined admiration for Freddy: "I just loved his playing! And I would give this track a rating of 8." It was also great that Danny picked up on Mayall's harp and Blue Mitchell's trumpet and was mostly familiar with Robinson's work from Mayall's Jazz Blues Fusion. Freddy Robinson is another very talented artist that also never got the attention he should have and also suffers in that he is not on that many recordings. I was fortunate to have seen Robinson perform (with Mayall) twice.
Track 3: Alex Schultz 's "Lexington Express" written by Alex Schultz from the album Think About It with Alex Schultz on guitar, Bill Stuve on bass, Daniel Glass on drums, Carl Sonny Leyland on piano, Mando Doraama on tenor sax, Scott Steen on trumpet, Jim Jedeikin on baritone and alto saxes. Produced by Alex Schultz on Severn Records in 2004.
Like Freddy Robinson, Alex Schultz came from a Blues background and then got jazzier with his later day recordings, especially his work with the European B3 player Raphael Wressnig. Check out their recording Don't Be Afraid to Groove. Danny guesses, "At first I thought it was someone like Junior Watson, but it's too tame for his style of playing. Plus, this guitarist definitely took the guitar ending from Gatemouth's "Okie-Dokie Stomp."' When I mentioned that the guitarist worked with William Clarke and Rod Piazza, "Alex Schultz! I knew it was probably a L.A. guy doing jump Blues, and I give this track a rating of 7."
Track 4: Larry Carlton "Sapphire Blue" written by Larry Carlton from the album Sapphire Blue with Larry Carlton guitar, Michael Rhodes on bass, Billy Kilson on drums, Matt Rollings on fender Rhodes, Reese Wynans on B-3 organ, Eric Darken on percussion, Steve Patrick on trumpet, Chris Dunn on trombone, Mark Douthit on tenor sax and all solos, Jim Horn on horn arrangements and baritone sax. Produced by Larry Carlton for Bluebird/Arista Records in 2003.
This track is a straight out slow boiling Blues that explodes intensely several times by a guitarist not typically known for Blues, but certainly a well known musician, Larry Carlton. "This one is easy for me. I got it with just one note of his playing, Larry Carlton! I recognize his playing very easily. He has a very distinct tone, and Larry pretty much invented that guitar sound. He's really the only one who plays the guitar like that." Danny's obviously a big Carlton fan: "I have to say that a part of me wants to be like Carlton, too, because I can relate to what he does so much. He's very melodic; he rarely starts out trying to show you everything he has, so he's much more about the melody and the soulfulness behind the music. I can also relate as he does not sing like me." Danny was also impressed with the B3 player Reese Wynans. "He sure impressed me, nice organ on that track, and I'd give this track a perfect 10 rating.'
Track 5: Coco Montoya's "Jungle Strut" written by Gene Ammons, also made somewhat famous by Carlos Santana, from the album Viva Carlos! A Supernatural Marathon Celebration. Coco Montoyaon guitar, Peter Wolf on keys & organ, Dave Weckl on drums, Abraham Laboriel on bass, Jeff Richman on guitars, Luis Conte on percussion. Produced b; Jeff Richman for Tone Center record in, 2006.
Let's see how Danny does with the rocking Bluesman Coco Montoya who is a bit out of character covering Carlos Santana here. "I don't think it was Carlos. And I kept thinking that it was a guitar player who is playing with the Allman's now like Derek Trucks, but he plays mostly slide, so I can't tell you for sure who was playing on this tune." When I told Danny it's Coco, "That makes sense, but that's not Coco's band, right?" Danny was dead on as these Tone Center recordings assembled bands by guitarist Jeff Richman. "So they've put together a super band. I have to checkout some of these recordings, as it seems like a total guitar-geek- heaven deal which I typically don't go for a lot, but I really like this track, and would rate the this a 10 and 8 for the guitar playing."
Bonus Track: Joe Sample and David T. Walker's "Woke Up This Morning" written by B.B. King from the album Swing Street Caf. Joe Sample on keyboards, David T. Walker on guitar, James Jamerson on bass, Earl Palmer on drums. Horns are Herman Kiley, Albert Aarons, John Kelson, and Ernie Fields. Produced by Wilton Felder, "Stix" Hooper & Joe Sample for Crusader Records-MCA in 1981
As Danny was digging the challenge, I gave him one additional track. "That was good: B.B.'s 'Woke Up This Morning.' Was that Alex Schultz, again?" No. When I told him it was David T. Walker, he said, "I saw David T. with Lou Rawls. Charles Brown and I did a gig with Lou and David T. in Switzerland and he was amazing."
Danny's very knowledgeable with a keen ear. He's also a great sport and was wonderful to do this with. Now, are there any other musicians who would like to take the next test?
Bob Putignano is a contributing editor at BluesWax. You may contact Bob at: email@example.com web site: www.SoundsofBlue.com
Bob Putignano: www.SoundsofBlue.com