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Saturday, October 16, 1999

Review - Swingin' & Jumpin'

Artist: Roomful of Blues

Posted on Sat, Oct 16, 1999 at 4:00 AM

Roomful of Blues has long carried a torch for the jump/R&B mix that grew out of the swing era and proved a mid-wife for '50s rock and roll. That's made abundantly clear on "Swingin' & Jumpin'," a compilation culled from the band's 1977 debut album and two early '80s collaborations with Big Joe Turner and Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson.

Shout choruses, hot horn solos, call-and-response vocals, chunky rhythm-section moves -- this is the real thing, from bouncing Noble "Thin Man" Watts opener "Give It Up" to closing ballad "Duke's Blues," a feature for the touch-sensitive guitar work of then-leader Duke Robillard.

Roomful, a septet until saxophonists Rich Lataille, Doug James and Greg Piccolo were augmented by trumpeter Bob Enos and trombonist Porky Cohen in the early '80s (making it a nine-piece), sounds like a little big band.

But they roar like Count Basie, and groove tough as you like, turning up the soul for the start-stop riff of Hank Crawford's "He Was A Friend of Mine," with Vinson out front on vocals, and encouraging Turner to get as brassy as the horns on his saucy "Cocka-Doodle-Doo." Cool, cats.

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