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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf

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Jazz Gives Me the Blues

VOTP Records VOCD 116



1. Jazz Gives Me the Blues
2. I'm Just a Lucky So and So
3. Black Coffee
4. Do Nothing Till You Hear from Me
5. God Bless the Child
6. Travellin' All Alone
7. For All We Know
8. I Ain't Got Nothing but the Blues

Billy Jenkins - Electric guitar, voice, harmonica
Finn Peters - Alto sax, flute
Jim Watson - NORD organ
Mike Pickering - Drums


Billy Jenkins is perhaps the outstanding maverick in British jazz and blues. He plays the guitar in a mixture of styles: blues, rock, country and jazz, making the instrument scream and moan. This is apparent in the bluesy opening title-track, where the guitar, sax and organ seemingly fight for supremacy. Billy adds his vocals to I'm Just a Lucky So and So, sounding gruff and abrasive, reminiscent of Tom Waits. Hot Coffee starts as Heartbreak Hotel and is even more guttural, with the actual tune virtually indistinguishable.

Do Nothing Till You Hear from Me is less grating and Jekins' harmonica blends contrapuntally with Finn Peters' alto sax. Billy's vocals on God Bless the Child range from a high-pitched soprano to a low-pitched throaty bass. Jim Watson gets to play a heartfelt organ solo, and Finn Peters' flute floats in the air. The flute is also delightfully prominent in Travellin' All Alone.

Jenkins' voice turns subdued and intimate in For All We Know, meaning that you can hear clearly how he wanders out of tune. His discords are offset by the religious-sounding organ and the airy flute. The final I Ain't Got Nothing but the Blues has scratchy guitar and voice, but the organ and sax solos are genuine rocking blues.

Billy Jenkins wants to remove the polite academic habits of some modern jazz, replacing it with outspoken, gritty passion - and he succeeds with this album. It's not necessarily a pleasant experience but Billy Jenkins means what he plays.

Tony Augarde

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