“Touch Of Blue”, the fifth album from epic guitar man Bill Hart. This bold, current effort fuses rock and bits of blues and jam-band to form a unique blend of Satriani-like soul.
Bill Hart was born and raised in Ontario, Canada and began playing guitar at the young age of nine years old. Influenced by the diverse guitar style of Jimi Hendrix, David Gilmour, and Jimmy Page, he came up playing non-traditional places like theaters where he performed “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” and “Little Shop of Horrors”. Mr Hart has studied under master guitarists such as Mike Stern, Wayne Krantz and Scott Henderson and has been the head of the guitar department at the Atlanta Institute of Music & Media for over 25 years. He has opened for jazz greats Herbie Hancock, Marcus Miller, Lou Rawls, Yellow Jackets, Acoustic Alchemy, Joey Defrancesco, Norman Brown, Rippingtons and Mike Stern among others. Touring all over Latin America, Mr. Hart was awarded a letter from the U.S. Embassy in Venezuela for his contribution to the students in South America.
“Touch Of Blue” opens with a haunting guitar melody that is answered by Pat Strawser’s chiming piano calls. Soon, Mr. Hart and Enrico Galetta’s singing bass are engaged in a back and forth conversation and “Deep Skies” is off to the races. Set on the frame of Jaungui Aguayo’s driving rock back-beat, “Deep Skies” is a five minute onslaught of non-stop energy.
“That’s Purdy” is a sassy number melting the established rock beat with pure funk overtones. Jazzy piano interjections, a funky rhythmic feel and Mr. Hart’s patented rock guitar are the perfect follow up to “Deep Skies”. The middle of the song opens up and the keyboard takes a solo that matches Hart’s intensity and the melody soars as piano and guitar trade reflective musings.
“Touch of Blue” is an intelligent, no nonsense adventure that cuts to the quick and gives a modern perspective on rock fusion. Bill Hart releases the hounds and the listener is guaranteed a wild ride through a kaleidoscope of sound, texture and pulse. Take a ride with Bill Hart’s “Touch Of Blue” today...this one is not to be missed.
Blue Canoe Records has released “Look Beyond The Rain” from veteran piano man Bob Thompson and The Bob Thompson Band. Mr. Thompson brings the optimism in a funky way with the help of legendary producer and long-time friend, Buzz Amato (Curtis Mayfield, Ben E. King, Kriss Kross). Referring to the theme of the album, Thompson asserts, “It is going to rain sometime on your life but you have to look beyond that. This music spreads love and makes people feel good.”
Bob Thompson is a performer, band leader, and educator and is a staple in the music of West Virginia. A native of New York, Mr. Thompson came to West Virginia to study trumpet at West Virginia State University. In 1991, Bob joined the West Virginia Public Broadcasting's ground breaking "Mountain Stage", as house pianist and featured artist. He is also co-producer of Joy To The World, a Holiday Jazz Show broadcast on public radio nationwide (since 1992), heard internationally on Voice Of America and was just inducted into the West Virginia Music Hall of Fame in 2015. He has played all over the world with diverse artists including Bunky Green, Larry Coryell and recorded with Omar Hakim, Gerald Veasley and Kevin Eubanks.
“Look Beyond The Rain” opens with “Time 2 B One” and reveals Bob Thompson dancing along an exhilarating melody. After a few bars John Inghram (bass) and Tim Courts (drums) lay down a solid funk groove cued by the piano’s opening. The opening track unfolds into a floating solo by Doug Payne (sax), a driving solo from Ryan Kennedy (guitar) and again from Mr. Thompson with a supporting solo that brings them all together. The exchange between them resolves by the end in a dreamy fade that leaves the listener wanting more.
Possibly the most notable on the compilation is “The Swamp Stomp”. This time the listener is guided through the groove by a joyous and melodic theme on the saxophone. Again the rhythm section throws down a solid, funky groove and the listener is treated to delightful lick-swapping by some of the most talented musicians that the Eastern United States has to offer. The juxtaposition of the funk groove, wafting sax, beautifully linear fender rhodes and driving rock guitar really exposes the influences of this diverse group of individuals and melds into a solid singular voice.
“Look Beyond The Rain” is a joyful experience, no doubt about it. These incredibly talented musicians have a way of delivering accessible melody, touching the heart of the listener and not overcomplicating things. Like any great artists, they make it look easy. “Look Beyond The Rain” is a must-listen for fans of jazz, rock, blues and funk. These songs will stir emotion and leave the listener...optimistic.