So's ya know, that was Roy Gaines you saw in The Color Purple playing Miss Celie's Blues (Sister)", which also appears here. He's been around for a while (at 72, the big gent looks to be only in his mid-50s), is well respected, and loves big band and swing, so what you get in Tuxedo Blues is a blend of those two time-honored institutions with the even older mode of blues -- and we are talking serious BIG band here, a well populated ensemble that counts Joe Sample and Wilton Felder from the immortal Crusaders among its membership.
Half the songs on Tuxedo were penned or co-written by Gaines, and he sings all of them while playing a guitar somewhat after the style of his idol, T-Bone Walker, though oft sounding closer to B.B. King. The guy started at 14, playing piano a la Nat King Cole, but then he met Walker, and that was it. 1956 saw his emergence as a band leader and, from that point on, it was just a matter of what he decided to do: blues, swing, film scores, jazz, you name it. Gaines is, however, most known for his blues, and they form his legacy.
There's a lot of The Apollo Theater and F. Scott Fitzgerald in this CD as well, not to mention Ellington, Rushing, Big Joe Turner, and others. A number of arrangers, Leslie Drayton among them, work hard to shine up each track to lustrous refinement, making Tuxedo Blues high-tone, strictly uptown, with tons of class, and a swagger in music full of pealing horns and the sweet airs of yesteryear, a style that never quite goes out, constantly revivified precisely due to releases just like this one.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2010, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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