Bonnie Bramlett and Mr. Groove Band: Roots, Blues & Jazz (2006)
Everything old is new again! Bonnie Bramlett, a soulful rock star from the late 1960s (Delaney & Bonnie & Friends) and the first white Ikette in the Ike & Tina Turner Revue, never really went away. After contributing to some of the biggest rock/R&B/soul tunes, she turned to Christian music and in 2002 began a return to her soul roots via a series of new albums. Her latest work is on the Zoho label, most often associated with the downtown New York jazz scene.
Bramlett seems to have all of the musical pieces in place to mount yet another comebackand that includes her band, Mr. Groove, as well as background singers like her daughter, Bekka Bramlett, and a number of Ikettes who performed with her long ago.
It seems to me that the title of this album ought to be shortened to Blues & Roots to more accurately reflect its contents. Although Bramlett still has a strong voice that is prone to raspiness when pushed on certain songs here, she seems to know how to craftily show a variety of vocal styles to keep her audience happy, and she seems at her best on the soulful Sam Cooke classic "A Change Is Gonna Come."
Songs like Chuck Berry's "No Particular Place To Go" and Stephen Stills' "Love the One You're With" present softer versions of the original that work in her favor. She treats the Joe Zawinul jazz classic "Mercy, Mercy, Mercy" to the Johnny Watson-Larry Williams lyric, yielding another highlight. Bramlett's treatment of the standard "I'm Confessin'," done sotto voce, and also works, but on "That Lucky Old Sun" she strains to inject soulfulness into the song.
I suppose that I would like to go back to this album once in a while to decide where it is going and how my reaction changes. The jazz references are minimal, and I'm more reminded on occasion of Etta James, when her voice was deteriorating. In the meantime, the album remains a well-packaged product that should find an audience.
Visit Bonnie Bramlett on the web.
Track Listing: Love The One You're With; I Can Laugh About It Now; No Particular Place To Go; I'm Confessin'; Gotcha; That Lucky Old Sun; Mercy; Mercy; Mercy; A Change is Gonna Come; Carefree; Work Song; Love Hurts; Harlem Nocturne.
Personnel: Bonnie Bramlett: vocals, background vocals; Robbie Montgomery, Jessie Lucas, Bekka Bramlett, Chip Davis, Margie Cates, Steve Willets Calloway: background vocal; Tim Smith: bass; Roddy Smith: guitar; Steve Willets: piano; Mark Stallings: Hammond organ; Tim Gordon: saxes, flute; Donnie Marshall: drums, percussion; Bobby Ogdin: keyboards; Dan Sherrill: percussion.