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CD REVIEW -- Vince Salerno & Gerald McClendon
WGLT Highway 309

Vince Salerno & Gerald McClendon

Grabbing The Blues By The Horns

Pravda Records

Vince Salerno & Gerald McClendon CD

By Al Finley

Grabbing The Blues By The Horns does just that by opening with a baritone forward version of the Earl King classic “Come On.”  Vince Salerno’s baritone forward sound is reminiscent of Steve Berlin’s stellar work with Los Lobos and the track absolutely cooks!  Buckle your seat belts and get ready for a fine ride with a pair of blues vets. 

 

Vince Salerno and Gerald McClendon have been, what Down Beat magazine might call, “Talents Deserving Wider Recognition” in Chicago for a long time.  In the “Home of the Blues”, it can be hard to rise above the abundance of blues talent in Chicago.  Both born in Chicago and immersed in blues, jazz and soul since childhood; each has paid more than their fair share of dues before releasing this debut disc together. 

 

“Soulkeeper” Gerald McClendon’s urgent vocals upfront ensure that each track he sings will be heartfelt; but fun!  His joy of singing is evident in every note and nuance as he covers tracks by Billy Boy Arnold, Junior Parker, Little Walter and, especially, Otis Redding; but overall the disc seems to depend even more on the fine arrangements and resplendent harp and horn work of Vince Salerno.

 

Vince frames Gerald’s vocals in fresh but still familiar takes on classics like “I Wish You Would,”  “Crying For My Baby,”  “Love Man” and “The Happy Song” before spotlighting his own fine sax work in a couple jazz classics: Milt Jackson’s “Bag’s Groove” and Oliver Nelson’s “Stolen Moments” – both reminiscent of Ray Charles’ best soulful genre busting jazz work.  Throughout the disc, Vince’s versatility and finesse with his harps and horns is evident in every cut and bassist Lou Marini and drummer Mark Fornek from the Vince’s band the Rhythm Rockets keep the music moving.

 

By the time Vince closes the album with a harp original called “The Wobble,” you would swear it’s a classic too!  Hopefully, Grabbing The Blues By The Horns will help raise the profile of these often overlooked music veterans both home and abroad.

For info or to buy the album: www.pravdamusic.com

Al Finley plays BoTh KiNdS of music from High Noon Central to 2pm Sundays on WNUR (89.3 FM). 

He also hosts HOW THE WEST WAS STRUNG on WDCB (90.9 FM) Tuesdays 11pm-Midnight CST.

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