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CD REVIEW -- Eddie Shaw & the 757 Allstars

EDDIE SHAW & THE 757 ALLSTARS

Still Riding High

Stringtown Records

Eddie Shaw & 757 Allstars CD

By Larry Schara

I may be dating myself but I miss album covers and all their associated art. LP covers were an exciting art form unto itself that for the most part just did not transfer well to the smaller CD sleeve format. Growing up and leafing through thousands of album covers in the record stores, I became quite good at “judging an album by its cover” so to speak. When I pulled Eddie Shaw and the 757 Allstars new CD from the mailing envelope and looked at the colorful cover photo, taken by Joyce Marie Morrin, with Eddie sitting behind the wheel of a vintage car and his sax in hand, hanging out the window, that nostalgic feeling swept through me that this was going to be a great disc, and I was right!

But before we get to the music, there is a bit of a back story behind this wonderful recording. This project originally began as a local grassroots effort to promote and revive the blues in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia (telephone area code 757). In that realm, this recording has already been a success by enhancing the live music scene and promoting blues to a younger generation in the Hampton Roads area. The CD has been released on a small local independent label but hopefully the disc will find its way soon to i-Tunes, Amazon or CD baby so a wider audience can enjoy this great project.

Of the 12 tracks on this CD, 11 were written by Eddie Shaw.  This is “The” Eddie Shaw that Muddy Waters brought to Chicago when he was in his early 20s, the same Eddie Shaw that played with Howlin’ Wolf!  His reputation easily precedes him. Eddie turned 75 in 2012 and, like many of his compatriots that are still around and playing, he shows no signs of easing up on his 60 years of making great music.

The first track,“Sack Full of Blues,” swings this CD into high gear right from the start and it never stops after that. Eddie’s unmistakable vocals are featured on “What Comes First,” “Black- Eyed Peas & Fatback” and as a duet with singer Jackie Scott (who produced the disc) on the bonus track “I Want a Pretty Woman”. But it’s Eddie’s years of musical experience, profound production, musical sensibilities and soaring sax tones that really make this recording something special. “Paris in the Fall” and “Rock This House” stand out as two of the better tracks that feature Eddie’s well-known saxophone.

And while most of the performers on this CD are not known on a national level, you can tell they are consummate pros by the sound of the recording. The “757 Allstars” deserve much credit for their talent and contributions to Still Riding High. There are over a dozen different players listed in the credits, but the CD maintains a consistent, solid blues sound throughout, thanks to Eddie’s musical direction.

And in closing, kudos have to go to Jennifer Noble, Chicago native and photographer for the Chicago Blues Guide for her back cover photo. Although it’s just a shot of Shaw’s sax and hat sitting on a battered suitcase upon a tile floor, the photo certainly did its part to help bring back that old album cover feeling. I hope you all make an effort to get a copy and enjoy this CD!

To buy the CD, visit: www.eddieshawsax.com

Larry Schara is a 40 year veteran of the music industry as a musician, engineer, producer with 9 Grammy nominated credits, a couple of gold records and a fond remembrance of working with Ray Charles, B.B. King and Chuck Berry among others.

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