Album Review: I Just Want To Be Horizontal from Samoa Wilson with the Jim Kweskin Band
Artist: Samoa Wilson with the Jim Kweskin Band
Label: Kingswood Records, LLC
Website: www.jimkweskin.com & www.samoawilson.comVocalist Samoa Wilson and guitarist/bandleader Jim Kweskin make something special on I Just Want To Be Horizontal. Their reimagination of classic jazz gems fuse a myriad of melodic-enriched traits, dabbling in the earthy country folk textures of Tin Pan alley jazz, mixed with the lively trotting of Prohibition Era hot jazz, and adding a glint of Broadway showtunes-style radiance. Such sparkling qualities relatable to the jazz made famous in classic Hollywood films are revisited and revamped on Wilson and Kweskin’s recording. Inspired by Teddy Wilson’s 1930’s recordings that featured blues singer Billie Holiday, the music has roots in the jazz of the early 20th century with Samoa’s striking vocals bringing the recording into the 21st century, carving out its rightful place in modern jazz.
Wired with the ambling tempo of ragtime and the playful spirit of vaudeville, “The Candy Man” resonates the poise and laid back manner of music benchmarking the infectious swing jazz hybrids of the Roaring Twenties. Wilson displays the casual strut of a flapper with the sensual strokes of a 21st century siren. The nuances in her voice engulf the listener in dreamy sensations that change to a reflective musing in “Inchworm” as the soft crackle of Kweskin’s guitar waddles through the melody. Melodic intervals provided by Sonny Barbato’s accordion enhance the twinkling constellation, encircling the listener in scintillating tones. Moving on, the lure of soothing Hawaiian-inspired blues can be heard in the whispery swells of Titus Vollmer’s slide guitar floating gently along “At Ebb Tide,” offering a unique perspective among the assortment of classic hot jazz melodies and torchlight ballads.
The earthy texture of Kweskin’s vocals resemble Willie Nelson on “That’s Life I Guess,” contrasting the gleaming timbres of Wilson’s voicing. The pair twine around the uplifting toots of Dennis Lichtman’s clarinet, exuding a country folk tone reminiscent of classic Tin Pan alley songwriters like Bix Beiderbecke and Scott Joplin. The moonlight glow of “Until The Real Thing Comes Along” creates swaying shadows that shroud Wilson’s vocals in sheer gossamer. Foddering the duo’s leanings for Prohibition-laced hot jazz, the chugging rhythm of “Me, Myself and I” is adorned in a perky horn arrangement with Titus Vollmer’s ukulele zipping lively across the melody, giving the track its vintage Victrola-like reverberation and cake walk-style trotting.
The music of Samoa Wilson and the Jim Kweskin Band is absolutely invigorating, eliciting sensations of bliss in listeners. The duo’s rendition of works by such icons as the Gershwin brothers, Sammy Cahn, Frank Loesser, Irving Berlin, Cole Porter, and more, gives old time tunes a youthful pulse. Wilson’s interaction with Jim Kweskin and his band shows a camaraderie and simpatico reflective of the great blues jazz vocalists of the 20th century.
Samoa Wilson – vocals
Jim Kweskin – vocals, fingerpicking and rhythm guitar
Titus Vollmer – lead and rhythm guitar, Hawaiian slide guitar, ukulele
Mike Davis – trumpet and cornet
Paloma Ohm – alto saxophone
Dennis Lichtman – clarinet, fiddle, mandolin and alto saxophone
Sonny Barbato – piano and accordion
Matthew Berlin – bass
Jeff Brown – drums
Sean Read and Maddie Read Clarke – backup harmony on “At Ebb Tide”