Friday, February 22, 2008

Review: Andrew Black & the Naturals

The name of the cd is "14TH & CRESCENT" and it is very fine. I bought it from Andrew's manager Terry Reeves last Sunday at the monthly meeting of the Atlanta Blues Society and I want to get the word out to the world--you need to check these guys out! The band is made up of Andrew Black, on vocals and guitar, Dustin "Big Red" Sargent on bass, Jack "Chill" Jones on drums, and Will "Bigheart" Scruggs plays saxophones. This cd is a time capsule of AB & the Naturals' Sunday Brunch gig on the patio at Front Page News on Crescent Avenue in midtown Atlanta, and here the band is truly an ensemble meshing all their gifts in service to the songs--the way I think the blues should be played. Don't buy this cd looking for guitar theatrics--Andrew Black can play a mean guitar, but here his playing is complementary and restrained except on "Red Baron" where he lets it loose a little. Instead, buy this cd for the horn work and the vocals. Will Scruggs almost steals this cd, playing great saxophone on horn charts by Wes Funderburk. The instrumental "Red Clay" is one of the highlights of the disc, and how often can you say that? But the vocals of Andrew Black are the heart of this cd. Many times I hear about this or that person having great solos--often I feel like something important has been left out. Blues is not first an exercise in soloing. Blues is a feeling, and that feeling is best shared by singing. The vocals and the songs are key for the blues to catch your ear and then your heart! Listen to Blind Lemon or Muddy Waters or Billie Holliday. I'm not trying to compare Andrew Black to those immortals, but he sings really well. Here he shows his ability to push a song along on "Treat A Dog" and does a soulful almost jazzy "Everyday I Have The Blues." He doesn't quite showcase his ability to get "down and dirty" on this cd--this is a Sunday Brunch set so he keeps things smooth and light. It's a good cd. Believe me Andrew Black is one of Atlanta's musical gems.

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