" Freewheelin' "
I thought it would be difficult for Enrico Crivellaro to one-up his previous Mojo Zone but I was wrong. The good news here is that not only has Crivellaro kept to task here, he's also matured and grown. It takes a lot of courage to cover Duke Ellington's "In A Sentimental Mood," yet Crivellaro pulls it off more like a well-seasoned veteran guitarist who one would think might be many decades older than the forty-one year old youngster he is. But than again Crivellaro is a true student of his craft who has gone through great lengths to educate himself about all guitarists, that's largely evident on "Freewheelin'."
"Blackout" sets the tone of the disc. It's a marvelous romp and workout for the entire band with hints of his mentor Ronnie Earl. "Super Cooker" is high-flying, more towards a jazz vamp with blues undertones; checkout Crivellaro's Wes Montgomery nods, as he shifts smartly from jazz to blues at breakneck speeds. The haunting "Forever Free (for Gregg and Duane)" by keyboardist Pietro Taucer doesn't reflect the Allman's stylistically, but it's drop-dead gorgeous, and a perfect late-night track that would have fit well on late-night FM radio back in the day. Crivellaro's "One For Lucy" is yet another jazz-blues guitar and B-3 stomp with superb shifting riffs that could work well for high-speed driving. Taucer's funky "Popcorn Jack" could have been covered on a Tommy LiPuma Blue Thumb session from the '70s. Taucer scores again on his soulful "T-Soul," a perfect vehicle for Crivellaro's tasty fretboard work as Taucer's sumptuous keys changing between piano to B-3. "Hymn To King Solomon," as in Burke, is frighteningly intense and serves as an appropriate emotional tribute to the Bishop of Soul. More explosions from Crivellaro's guitar ensue on his "Can You Dig It." The closing "Mr. Willis Playboy" will also have you swinging from the rafters.
If Crivellaro and his band aren't catapulted to at least being nominated for BMA, then I don't know what else to say? Finally, take time to read Crivellaro's thoughtful descriptions of all tunes included, and take notes of his personal and heartfelt selection of dedications of musicians that recently left us. This album is as good as it gets.
Bob Putignano: www.SoundsofBlue.com