This versatile Canadian-born guitarist helped open Disney World's Pleasure Island Jazz Company and continues to perform there, so it's no surprise that his debut recording is mostly chipper musical optimism in the smooth-jazz vein. Though he could benefit from more live drums, Sabler wins both heart and feet with easy on the ears, lighthearted melodies mixed with solid rock/jazz playing skills. The opening title track captures this vibe perfectly, with crisp playing, a bouncing groove and bright soloing.
This is the third in a series of posthumous albums of previously unreleased recordings by Randy California and Spirit, drawn from California's archives and assembled by Mick Skidmore. As Skidmore explains in his detailed liner notes, California put together an album called Blues From the Soul around 1995, and even copyrighted its contents; but later opted to use some of the material on the final album he released with Spirit, California Blues, prior to his accidental death by drowning in January 1997. Other tracks from the proposed album were culled for the first posthumous release, Cosmic Smile. Skidmore has included all 13 of the songs California had intended to use on his version of Blues From the Soul, though he has substituted alternate takes or live recordings of tracks already issued. Of course, the album also has been vastly expanded to include 35 selections for a running time of two-and-a-half hours. But the basic concept remains the same, and that is to present a collection of folk and blues recordings.
Pianist Otis Spann played in Muddy Waters' band from 1953 to 1970, and was instrumental in creating the electric Chicago blues sound. These 11 tracks were recorded in the mid-'60s by Down Beat magazine editor Pete Welding, and were previously released as Otis Spann's Chicago Blues on Testament Records. This reissue omits the solo Spann material from the original disc and highlights the group recordings featuring S.P. Leary, Johnny Young, James Cotton, Willie Dixon, and Muddy Waters. While not as revolutionary as the records Spann played on with Muddy in the late '50s, you can't deny this lineup of seminal Chicago bluesmen doing what they did best.
Hittin' the Note is the twelfth and final studio album by the American Southern rock group the Allman Brothers Band. Released through Sanctuary Records, it was their first studio album to include lead slide guitar player Derek Trucks and bass player Oteil Burbridge and marked the full-time return of guitar player Warren Haynes to the band. It was also their first (and only) studio album not to include original guitarist Dickey Betts. The CD was recorded live in the studio in New Jersey in December 2001 with lead vocal and minor overdubs recorded in early 2002. It was the first Allman recording co-produced by bandmember Haynes and Michael Barbiero.
Robert Walter continues to balance on twin peaks of dance and jazz cultures with Giving Up the Ghost, whose breezy grooves cool sizzling keyboard and sax lines down to a simmer. The band includes alumni from Black Eyed Peas, T.J. Kirk, and Walter's own Greyboy Allstars, which means that the playing is consistently top-notch. There's enough angularity in the arrangements to bear occasional comparison to Medeski, Martin & Wood.