And sometimes it is all about the groove...
Lipbone Redding, singer, guitarist, songwriter, master of mimicking a trombone with his mouth (hence the Lipbone), and all around bon-vivant, has been delighting jaded New Yorkers with his brand of funky good time music in the bistros and clubs of the Big Apple from Williamsburg, Brooklyn, to the Bronx for some time now. This North-Carolina-raised Southern gentleman has been inviting night owls and brunchers alike to get their groove on with his jazzy, soulful approach to the singer/songwriter idiom.
Audiences find that even in solo performance Redding is equipped to get the party started, with a guitar style that transcends mere accompaniment--not fancy but infectiously rhythmic, adding a strong backbeat as well as harmony. Filling the sound out further are the mouth trombone solos that, in addition to being uncannily realistic, are inventive and lyrical. Expanded to a trio, with upright bass and drums, the fun factor increases geometrically, and anyone not moving and/or smiling needs to get their pulse checked because there is a good chance that they are dead and just don't know it.
Variety, both live and on this feel-good CD, is achieved in the guise of grooves from assorted genres: swing, funk, New Orleans, blues, calypso, and any other music that moves the body along with the heart and mind. You will hear familiar references aplenty--Tom Waits, Dr. John, Louis Armstrong, Bill Withers--all filtered through the distinctive, laid-back cool of Mr. R.
Producer and Redding bassist Jeff Eyrich (Dave's True Story) has captured much of the live Lipbone experience in the studio, wisely eschewing any major additions to the basic sound that you might hear in a club. What carries the record to the next level are the songs; like "Dogs of Santiago," a tale told from the point of view of a street mutt; "Follow The Money," a funk-filled lament about the price of war; and a tour-de-force, jazzy rendering of the Tennessee Ernie Ford chestnut, "Sixteen Tons." I wouldn't be surprised to hear an anthem like "Love Is The Answer (for World Peace)" covered by Mavis Staples someday.
So maybe it is not "all" about the groove after all. Still, come for the rhythm, stay for the songs and the singing, and be blown away by the 'bone--Lipbone that is. • Michael Ross