PARTY AT NEWBY'S
For more than 20 years, this
Memphis club staple has mixed Southern soul and jam-band rock
with jazz flourishes (and jazz chops), but the new "From the
Bluff" is probably this quintessential live band's best studio
effort. Produced by area icon Jim Dickinson at his Zebra Ranch
Studio, the album features guest work from North Mississippi Allstars Luther and Cody Dickinson, sax ace Art Edmaiston, and
vocalist Jackie Johnson, among others, but the ever-versatile
sextet themselves stay at the center on a collection built
almost entirely on original songs. The opening "Keep Smilin'" is
sunny, catchy riff-based rock that demonstrates the band's
ability to rein it in for a classic-style
three-and-a-half-minute rock single. "Give It Back" boasts
Crescent City rhythms underneath some Steely Dan-esque songcraft.
"Down on the Bluff" and "Save Our Soul" are thematic bursts of
laid-back Memphis Soul. The instrumental "Spartacus" is a flight
of jazz-rock experimentation. The official CD-release party for
"From the Bluff" takes place Friday, October 10th, at Newby's.
The show starts at 10 p.m. Admission is $5 or free with purchase
of CD. FreeWorld will continue to celebrate their new record
with a couple of other shows this weekend. They play the
Brookhaven Pub on Saturday, with a 10 p.m. start time. They
finish up with their weekly gig at Blues City Cafe on Sunday at
Chris Herrington - Memphis
The Folk & Acoustic
by Mark S. Tucker
The promo lit
tells me this ensemble is a Memphis-driven unit and, sure
enough, it is, but there are distinct echoes of the 60s San
Francisco enclave, most notably seen in Stoneground and Tower of Power,
the tang in their own distinctive ways. FreeWorld, to these
ears, is more
like them. That's both good and.not-as-good. Give It Back is a
chunky funky monkey, upbeat and quirky, but the follower, Time
Mountain waxes too Sons of Champlin-ish, a group could be fairly
fairly often. A huge point of attraction, though, is Brian
his mutable guitar, now blazingly hot, now laid back and sassy,
then lazily delta buzzy.
More than a little soul pervades the ensemble (Down on the
tinged by a Taj Mahal-ish folk sense. The mellowly jazzy
instrumental Samurai gives the horns elbow room but Monkey Suit starts out by
match under Overstreet and then, late in the song, cuts him
loose to wail,
and, hoo-boy!, can that cat play when given his head, a several
occurrence that sets the CD aglow amid fire and heat.
From the Bluff is mostly very good material a few times caught
lackluster cuts but withal brimming with an elder days vibe
that's worthy in
and of its own. I mentioned Stoneground and Tower of Power a
paragraphs ago, and I'll very happily listen to these guys over
day of the week, but this CD tells me FreeWorld hasn't scaled
heights yet. A bit more concentration in the guitar and horns
have it. I'm waiting for someone to do for this sound what the
Mother's Finest LPs did for rock funk, and this just might be
the band to
finally accomplish that. They're awfully close already.
Oh, and will someone puh-leeze knock off this "bonus cut"
Geez, we're well past the Mad Ave. overkill stage in CDs by now.
mean to pick on these guys for it, but it's gotta stop
somewhere, so I'm
beginning here. Unless a disc is a re-issue, there's no such
thing as a
"bonus cut". C'mon. Besides, the disc is a generous near-hour
"bonus cut" gimmick's unnecessary.*
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2009, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and
response to the "bonus cut" comments at the end of the
instances, We would wholeheartedly agree with your stance.
However, in this particular instance, the reasons we tacked on "Save Our
Soul" as a "Bonus Track" to this new CD are threefold (and are fairly well
documented in the CD booklet):
1.) The song was not recorded with the rest of the
songs included on "From the Bluff" during the same studio sessions. It was
actually recorded 4 years earlier, in another studio & with another, world famous
producer (the GREAT Willie Mitchell himself!), so sonically, it doesn't
exactly match up with the other tracks;
2.) The track includes musical personnel
that are either no longer members of our band, &/or folks who were
strictly guest artists on that particular track - especially the guest lead
singer James Govan, who's never been in our band; &
3.) We had already
released this song back in 2005 as a CD single for another project, but it had
never actually made it onto any of our 4 previously released FreeWorld CDs.
Since we were particularly proud of the way the song turned out - and wanted
it to actually be included on a FreeWorld CD at some point in time - we tacked
it on to the end of our new CD as a bonafied "Bonus Track" to the sessions
that produced the rest of the songs on "From the Bluff".
We sincerely thank you for your review. Your overall kindness &
consideration are greatly appreciated, and I trust & hope you
will have a GREAT 2009 & beyond.]
Pittsburgh Post Gazette
Some Memphis soul from 'FreeWorld'
I hope you all had a bluesworthy weekend. I didn't get to all of
the shows I
wanted to see, but that's pretty much the way it is. I think it
Jagger and Stones who brought us that existential lament, "You
get what you want." As usual, however, BlueNotes is open 24/7
for comments and notes on local shows.
Meanwhile, there are a few new CDs in the pile worth a thought
or two, and
maybe a listen from you.
Have you ever heard of FreeWorld? I hadn't either, but there are
a lot of fine regional bands around getting more publicity these
days, through CD releases, festivals and blues competitions. And
we're all the better for it.
Back to FreeWorld. FreeWorld is a Memphis jam band, with roots
in R&B, soul
and blues, and one that you've probably never heard of.But if
you get a
chance, the band is worth a listen. It's not a new group -- it
goes back to
1987, and their new CD, "From the Bluff," is their fifth. One of
founders is sax legend Herman Green, a 78-year jazz and blues
63-year career lends history and musicality to this tight and
The band explores a variety of Memphis grooves, kicked along by
sharp guitar work, and gritty vocals from some unusual suspects.
rough-voiced James Govan brings back sweet soul memories on
"Save Our Soul"
and Harold "Sundance" Thomas lends passionate pipes to the
sensuously swinging "Down on the Bluff." Another noteworthy
track is the
hard-charging opener, "Keep Smiling," which just rolls over you
with a driving beat and a happy message.
The band members here all deserve a mention -- Richard Cushing,
Herman Green, David Skypeck, Brian Overstreet, E.J. Dyce, Phil
McGee -- there are no real stars, they are all stars, a group of
multi-talented musicians pumping out music with passion and
enthusiasm. What more can you ask?
FreeWorld dreht die Zeit zurück: Das bislang nur regional in der
Gegend von Memphis (Tennessee) aktive Sextett spielt reichlich
groovendes Zeugs, das in den 70ern angesagt war. Blues, Jazz,
Funk und Rock werden auf "From the Bluff" (Blind Dracoon) mit
reichlich Gebläse vermischt, produziert hat das Spektakel mit
dreizhen Gastmusikern (dabei der fast 80-jährige Jazz-Saxer
Herman Green). Jim Dickinson, der schorr Dylan, die Stones,
Aretha Franklin und andere tontechnisch in Szene setzte.
Immerhin: Drei mit Schmackes gespielte Soul-Blues machen richtig
Spaß, die übrigen acht Songs mit Fusion-Charakter eher weniger.
FreeWorld turns back the time: So far only regionally the sextet
active in the area of Memphis (Tennessee) plays plentifully
groove things, which was announced in the 70's. Blues, jazz,
funk and rock are all on "From the Bluff" (Blind Raccoon). With
plentifully blower, Jim Dickinson produced the mixed pageant
with many guest musicians (including the nearly 80-year old jazz
Saxer Herman Green). He has also produced Dylan, the Stones,
Aretha Franklin and others one set clay-technically in scene.
Nevertheless: Three Soul Blues played with Schmackes make
correctly fun, the remaining eight songs with a fusion character
FROM THE BLUFF
3 stars (out of 4)
Cette production de Jim Dickinson a (presque) tout d'un bon
produit de Memphis. Dominé par le bassiste-chanteur et joueur
de sitar Richard Cushing, FreeWorld nous offre du bon
rock'n'roll bluesy bien huilé, du funk groovy à souhait, de la
soul aux riffs précis et sautillants, parfois jazzy ou plus soft
encore, côté bossa avec cordes. Quelle variété!
Le sextet de base se fait accompagner par 13 guests, tous
cuivres dehors. En final, on a droit à un titre de 2004, "Save
Our Soul", remarquablement chanté par James Govan et mixé par
Willie Mitchell lui-même, qui apporte ainsi sa caution à une
formation de qualité. Si on évite l'insupportable "Spartacus",
le 10e titre, l'ensemble est homogéne et agréable. ~Marc Loison
This production of Jim Dickinson has (almost) a very good
product from Memphis. Dominated by the bass player-singer - and
player of sitar - Richard Cushing, FreeWorld offers us good
rock'n'roll, well-oiled blues, and funk grooves with a wish of
the drunk person to the fronts precise and hopping, sometimes
jazzy or more software still, side worked with cords. What a
The basic sextet is accompanied by 13 guests, all coppers
outside. For the encore, one is treated to a title of 2004,
"Save Our Soul", remarkably sung by James Govan and
mixed by Willie Mitchell himself, which thus brings its
guarantee to a formation of quality. If one avoids the
unbearable "Spartacus", the 10th title, the unit is homogeneous
Rock n' Reel Magazine
From the Bluff
3 Stars (out of 4)
Blues, soul, gospel, rock n' roll, rockabilly, jazz, rhythm n'
blues, rock and funk depending on your viewpoint, these can
all be Memphis music and six-piece band FreeWorld are the
living proof that they can all happily co-exist.
The opening number is a rock outing, then it is into some jazzy
funk with the follow-up, and this eclectic approach continues
throughout, right up to the closer a classic soul workout
entitled Save Our Soul' with its excellent vocal by Beale
Street veteran James Govan. Recorded under the aegis of producer
Jim Dickinson, whose credits include Stevie Ray Vaughn, Aretha
Franklin, Bob Dylan, Charlie Musselwhite, Ry Cooder, and the
Rolling Stones, he was clearly the ideal man for the job as all
those names and styles seem to have had some impact on this CD.
The line-up includes the founding member, seventy-eight-year-old
sax veteran Dr. Herman Green, whilst guests include musicians
from The Black Crowes and The North Mississippi Allstars, plus
Stax original Nokie Taylor. Part of the fun of this release is
spotting the influence; the other part is simply being able to
enjoy such excellent music.
Finnish Blues News Review
From the Bluff
(SwirlDisc SD 78453 630)
(1) Keep Smilin' (2) Give it Back (3) Time on the Mountain (4)
Down on the Bluff (5) Samurai (6) Spinning Around (7) Monkey
Suit (8) Simmer Down (9) Not Alone (10) Spartacus (11) Save Our
Tämän levyn kanssa kävi niin, että tämä tuli minulle ihan
puun takaa. Ensikuuntelun aikana, jolloin samalla värkkäsin
jotain, meni koko homma täysin ohi Sitten kun deadline alkoi
kaatua päälle ja oli (taas) jo korkea aika perehtyä aiheeseen
kunnolla, niin jopas olikin vastassa iloinen yllätys.
USA:n Memphisin kaupungista ponnistava FreeWorld-yhtye on
aiemmin julkaissut neljä täyspitkää cd:tä ja kataloogi siitä,
keiden kaikkien keralla on esiinnytty on erittäin vakuuttava ja
turhia tyylikarsinoita rikkova. Levylla on melkoissen vahvassa
pääroolissa 78-vuotias saksofonisti Dr. Herman Green, jonka yli
kuusi vuosikymmentä kattavaan uraan mahtuu vaikka mitä ja
soitto sekä levytyskumppaneita löytyy pienen puhelinluettelon
verran. Muu soittajisto on jonkun verran nuorempaa ryhmää, mutta
ei tokikaan mitään nöössi-osastoa. Tuottajaksi paketille on
saatu jokseenkin legendaarinen Jim Dickinson.
Se, mikä minua alkoi levyssä aivan erityisesti viehättää, on sen
maanläheinen, hieman vanhahtava funk-soundi. Jotenkin minulle
tuli mielleyhtymiä muinaisiin Osibisa ja The Beginning of the
End yhtyeisiin. Groove on aivan hellittämätöntä eikä svengi
seisahda hetkeksikään. Lisäksi tuhdisti soundaavat puhaltimet,
varsinkin foni, saavat paljon soittotilaa. Vielä levyllä on
havaittavissa tietty sinisilmä-soul-vinkkeli. Solisti ei yritä
liikaa, mutta pysyy kuitenkin mukana vauhdissa koko ajan. No,
sanotaan, ettei ainakaan Booker T-Meters-Neville menon
ystävien kannata ylenkatsoa tätä.
Itse biiseistä mainittakoon instrumentaali (5), joka yltyy jopa
melkoiseen improvisaatioon. Instru on myös (10), mutta täällä
saa kesken hyvän meiningin kitaristi, harmittavan,
happokohtauksen. Laulunumeroista nostan tapetille aika
humoristisen (7):n sekä päätösnumeron, joka puhuu
vuosikertasoulin puolesta. Siivulla vilahtelee montakin tuttua
riffiä 60-luvulta ja tällainen kunnianosoitus-kierrätys on
Funkimman osaston ystäville tarkistuksen paikka!
From the Bluff
(SwirlDisc SD 78453 630)
The disc was such that it initially came to me while I was
behind schedule, and I completely missed the whole thing... Then
when my deadline began to fall on top, I found it high time to
study the issue properly, and was delighted to meet a surprise.
USA's Memphis' FreeWorld has in the past released four
full-length CD's, and their music is very convincing and doesn't
necessary fit into any one particular style. This disc holds a
pretty strong role for 78-year-old saxophonist Dr. Herman Green,
who's more than six decades of a comprehensive career fit
whatever - and play - and the recording of the band is also high
quality. Other bandmembers are somewhat younger, but is
certainly not anything undesirable. Producer of the package is
the legendary Jim Dickinson.
But what started me on the disc, in particular, are attracted
to, is the country in a close, a little obsolescent-funk sound.
Somehow, I became a connotation to the ancient Osibisa - and
"The Beginning of the End - yhtyeisiin. Groove is a very
pressing and swing seisahda moment, either. In addition, guest
artists, especially vocalists, receive a lot of playing space.
Once you have detected a certain blue-eye-soul-vinkkeli. The
soloist does not try too much, but it remains, however, with the
pace all the time. Well, it is said that at least the influence
of Booker T.-Meters-Neville can be heard.
In fact, the instrumental track (5), holds the greatest
improvisation. The instrumental is also (10), and here on a good
guitarist meiningin, acid scene. Vocal numbers will get
tapetille time humorous (7) as well as the bonus track, which
speaks on behalf of vintage soul. There are also several
familiar 60s riffs, and such a tribute to recycling is quite
fun. Funkimman Department of friends review the place!
From the Bluff
Wydana wlasnie, a nagrywana na przelomie 2007 i 2008 roku,
plyta FreeWorld "From the Bluff" jest albumem z muzyka, ktora na
wlasny uzytek nazywam "American Music". Coz oznacza ten termin?
Muzyczna mieszanke w ktorej znajdziemy wplywy bluesowe, jazzowe,
country, muzyki uniwersyteckiej, a nawet lekkiej komercji,
odczuwalnej w latwosci komponowania chwytliwych melodii.
Wszystkie te elementy sa wyraznie slyszalne na "From the Bluff"
juz od otwierajacego plyte "Keep Smilin'", a na bonusowym "Save
Our Soul" konczac. Jako najwieksze inspiracje, chociaz nie
wymienione we wkladce, ale wyraznie slyszaine w muzyce FreeWorld
uznalbym The Band ("Down on the Bluff") i Dave Matthews Band
ten ostatni chociazby ze wzgledu na podobne instrumentarium i
wycieczki w strone jazzu.
Nie mozna odmowic muzyce zespolu tego, ze jest interesujaca.
Geste struktury aranzacyjne przeplataja sie z dosc
skomplikowanymi patentami rytmicznymi. Cala plyta jest do granic
mozliwosci nasycona roznorakimi smaczkami. Najwiecej ciekawostek
i zaskakujacych rozwiazan dostarcza gra sekcji detej.
Niesamowity wklad w wysoki poziom albumu wniesli zaproszeni w
liczbie trzynastu (!) goscie. Sa to zarowno wokalisci jak i
instrumentalisci. Najciekawiej z zaproszonych muzykow wypadli
grajacy na gitarze slide w utworze "Down on the Bluff" Luther
Dickinson i spiewajacy w tej samej kompozycji Harold "Sundance"
Thomas. Kolejnym elementem wplywajacym na jakosc "From the
Bluff" jest produkcja. Stoi ona na naprawde wysokim poziomie i
dodaje plycie tak niezbednej przy takiej muzyce spojnosci.
Polecam plyte tym wszystkim, ktorxy szukaja nowych brzmien i sa
ciekawi jak mozna polaczyc rozne gatunki w niezwykle ciekawa
Pawel Yoda Jodko (Poland)
Recorded during the turning point between the years 2007 and
2008, the disc "From the Bluff" by the band FreeWorld is an
album with music that I would personally call "American Music",
with a musical mixture of influences such as blues, jazz,
country, university music, even easy commerce, in facility of
composing sensible melody chwytliwych. All these elements are
distinctly audible on "From the Bluff", from the opening track
"Keep Smilin'", to the bonus track "Save our Soul". As biggest
inspirations, though not to mentioned wkadce, I would recognize
audible in music distinctly the band Dave Matthews - even from
the point of view of similar instrumentation and excursions into
It is not possible to deny that the music of this group is
interesting. Thick arrangement structures are interlaced with
enough complicated (elaborate) rhythmical patents. The whole
disc is saturated for borders of capabilities different savors.
Maximally interesting details and game of section would supply
surprising solution. Thirteen invited guests have contributed
amazing high level contributions to the album. There are
vocalists as well as instrumentalists. Most notable invited
musicians in the song "Down on the Bluff" on guitar in work most
curiously playing slide guitar Luther Dickinson and in same
composition singing Harold "Sundance" Thomas. Production is next
element effecting the quality of "From the Bluff". Really, it
stands on high level and it adds an essential cohesion to the
music on the disc. I recommend this disc to all who search for
new tones and are musically curious, as it is possible to join
different sorts to unusually curious integrity.
Pawel Yoda Jodko
"From The Bluff"
(Swirldisc SD 78453 630)
Here's another treat, courtesy of Betsie Brown at Blind Raccoon
in Memphis the fifth full-length release from the city's
FreeWorld described as "new school meets old school" and "the
best of Memphis, New Orleans and San Francisco all rolled into
one fresh and excitingly unique musical experience!" In layman's
terms a most appealing mix of jazz, funk and rock, all
beautifully played, recorded and produced.
The band have been evolving since 1987 and the current core is:
Richard Cushing (lead & backing vocals, bass, sitar, shaker),
Dr. Herman Green (tenor saxophone and vocal), David Skypeck
(drums), Brian Overstreet (guitars), E. J. Dyce (lead and
backing vocals, trumpet, maracas) and Captain Phil McGee (alto
and tenor saxophone) together with a host of special guests,
most noticeably producer Jim Dickinson's sons, the North
Mississippi Allstars Luther Dickinson and Cody Dickinson.
The uptempo, sunny "Keep Smilin'" opens proceedings, with punchy
horns and great solo from Brian Overstreet, whose guitar is very
impressive throughout; followed by a dip into James Brown funk
territory on "Give It Back". The gently rocking "Time On The
Mountain" follows, again great horns and another to feature the
guitar of Overstreet a new name to me, but a truly great
The title cut "Down On The Buff" sees a guest vocal from the
soulful Harold "Sundance" Thomas as the band extol the
Mississippi river as it rolls through their home town nice
slide guitar here from Luther Dickinson. The instrumental
"Samurai" rides along on a nice funky, jazzy groove, with lovely
saxophone solo from Art Edmaiston.
The 78 year old jazz saxophone legend, Dr. Herman Green who
has performed and recorded with the likes of Miles Davis, John
Coltrane, BB King and Lionel Hampton, to name but a few gets
the spotlight on "Spinning Around", as E.J. Dyce tells the story
of the FreeWorld from 1987 in song, with a tenor saxophone solo
that dips into Coltrane territory very fine indeed!
Overstreet catches fire again on "Monkey Suit" with some revved
up wah-wah work, while the swampy rock of "Simmer Down" sees the
band in a Louisiana groove that almost could be Lynyrd Skynyrd
meets Tony Joe White and yet another killer guitar solo.
This fine release beautifully produced by aforementioned
Memphis legend Jim Dickinson - ends with the bonus cut of "Save
Our Soul" a horn-driven Memphis soul number, with another
guest vocal, this time from the great James Govan a fitting
tribute to the soul heritage of the city of Memphis it even
sounds as if it could have been cut 40 years ago!
Recorded material-wise, I have enjoyed a lot of stuff this year.
Without one particular CD jumping out at me, here's my top ten,
in no particular order:
1. The Cadillac Kings - Trouble In Store
2. Sean Costello - We Can Get Together
3. Moreland & Arbuckle - 1861
4. Chris Bergson Band - Fall Changes
5. FreeWorld - From The Bluff
6. JW Jones - Bluelisted
7. Various, including Big Walter Horton - Bocce Boogie
8. GravelRoad - Shot The Devil
9. The City Shakers - The Very Best Of
10. Jason Ricci & New Blood - Rocket No. 9
From The Bluff
Rhythm & Blues, Funk und Soul. Das sind mit einer Prise Rock
die wesentlichen Stilelemente der amerikanischen Band FreeWorld.
Gegründet 1987, nennen sie Booker T. & the MGs, John Coltrane,
Frank Zappa, The Grateful Dead und The Meters als Vorbilder.
Ältestes Mitglied von FreeWorld ist der 78jährige Saxophonist
Herman Green, der bereits mit Miles Davis, John Coltrane, B.B.
King und Lionel Hampton auf der Bühne stand. Zusammen mit den
weiteren Mitgliedern kann man FreeWorld als ein Best-of-Ensemble
aus Memphis, New Orleans und San Francisco bezeichnen.
"From The Bluff" ist das fünfte Album der Band und wurde von Jim
Dickinson produziert. Für das Songwriting waren diesmal Bassist
und Sänger Richard Cushing, Schlagzeuger David Skypeck,
Gitarrist Brian Overstreet und der Trompeter E.J. Dyce
verantwortlich. Die Musik klingt wie aus den guten alten Zeiten
der 60er und 70er Jahre. Unaufdringlich produziert klingen die
Kompositionen herrlich authentisch. Die Musiker strotzen vor
Spielfreude. Wer ein Ohr für gut gemachte Musik zwischen Blues,
Soul, Gospel, Funk und Rock hat und nicht auf den
Mainstream-Sound eines Joe Cocker steht, sollte sich diese
Scheibe unbedingt zu Gemüte führen!
From The Bluff
Rhythm & Blues, Funk and Soul. This is with a pinch of rock
style the essential elements of the American band FreeWorld.
Founded in 1987, they call Booker T. & the MGs, John Coltrane,
Frank Zappa, The Grateful Dead and The Meters their role models.
The oldest member of FreeWorld is 78-year-old saxophonist Herman
Green, who has stood on the stage with Miles Davis, John
Coltrane, BB King and Lionel Hampton. Together with other
members of the FreeWorld, they can be described as a
best-of-Ensemble from Memphis, New Orleans and San Francisco.
"From The Bluff" is the fifth album by the band and was produced
by Jim Dickinson. Responsible for the songwriting this time were
bassist and singer Richard Cushing, drummer David Skypeck,
guitarist Brian Overstreet, and the trumpeter EJ Dyce. The music
sounds like the good old days of the 60s and 70s. Discreet
produces sound wonderfully authentic compositions. The musicians
bursting joy before the game. If you have a good ear for music
made between blues, soul, gospel, funk and rock, and not on the
mainstream sound of Joe Cocker is, this disc should necessarily
lead to the heart!
by: Norbert Jager
Red Hot Rock Magazine (Sweden)
Rockig soulfunk från Memphis. Och det
låter Memphis också, kan jag lova. Eller snarare Memphis på
utflykt till västkusten, med jazzig improvisation och tight blås.
FreeWorld är sammankopplade med så många kända namn att man
skulle kunna skriva en hel bok, men det räcker att säga att
skivan är producerad av Jim Dickinson (Bob Dylan, Rolling
Stones, Big Star, med flera). Medverkar gör, förutom gruppens
vanliga uppsättning med sångaren och låtskrivaren Richard
Cushing i täten, bland annat Luther Dickinson (Jim Dickinson's
son) från The Black Crowes och den sjuttioåttaårige
jazzsaxofonisten Herman Green, som spelat med bland andra Miles
Davis. Gästsångare är bland andra Harold "Sundance" Thomas, som
sjunger plattans kanske bästa spår "Down on the Bluff".
Den här plattan känns väldigt innerlig och geniun, enkel och
anspråkslös, trots alla viktiga namn och supercoola musiker.
Dagens tips: kolla upp FreeWorld.
Hip soul funk from Memphis. And it also sounds like Memphis, I
can promise. Or rather Memphis on a trip to the West Coast, with
jazzy improvisation and a tight bladder. FreeWorld is
interconnected with so many big names that you could write a
book, but suffice it to say that the disc is produced by Jim
Dickinson (Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones, Big Star, and others).
Guest artists, in addition to the group's usual set of the
singer and songwriter Richard Cushing in the lead, include
Luther Dickinson (Jim Dickinson's son) from The Black Crowes and
seventy eight-year jazz saxophonist Herman Green, who played
with Miles Davis, among others. The guest singers include Harold
"Sundance" Thomas, who sings perhaps the CD's best track, "Down
on the Bluff."
This album feels very intimate and genuine, simple and
unassuming, despite all the important names and super cool
musicians. Today's tip: Check out FreeWorld.
FreeWorld has been an independent, regional
touring, ever-evolving Memphis-based musical ensemble since
1987. Drawing from influences as broad-based as Booker T. & The
MG's, John Coltrane, Frank Zappa, The Grateful Dead, Steely Dan
and The Meters, the group has remained a consistently
entertaining and informed voice in the Memphis music scene since
the band's inception. Their new album, From The Bluff on the
SwirlDisc label, is the group's fifth full-length CD and
features The Man, none other than the 78-year-old Blues and Jazz
legend, Herman Green. He joins FreeWorld on saxophone, flute and
vocals. The key number on this release is the last track on the
disc, the bonus track Save Our Soul. To
give you an idea of what the song is like, to me, it sounds like
between Creedence Clearwater Revival and Otis Redding, with The
Horns added in for good measure. Among the writers of the song
FreeWorld band members lead vocalist and bassist Richard Cushing
David Spypeck. The final mix was tweaked and approved by the
Willie Mitchell. SoSyou know the song has got to be good. And
that it is!
Remember those good old
horn-driven R&B bands in the 1970s, like Tower of Power or
Average White Band, who mixed soul with upbeat lyrics with jazz
and funk? FreeWorld, out of Memphis, continues that great
tradition into the 21st Century. They've been around since 1987
with their enthralling mix of Memphis, New Orleans, and the West
Coast, and feature 78-year-old jazz sax legend Dr. Herman Green,
who has played with Miles & Coltrane, B.B. King, Lionel Hampton,
Phineas & Calvin Newborn, and Bob Weir (of the Grateful Dead),
among others during his storied 60-plus year professional music
From The Bluff (SwirlDisc) is their fifth release and is
produced by Jim Dickinson, whose resume includes producing,
performing, and recording with artists like Bob Dylan, the
Rolling Stones, Aretha Franklin, Sam & Dave, Ry Cooder, and the
Replacements. FreeWorld consists of Green (tenor sax), along
with Richard Cushing (lead vocals, bass, sitar, shaker), David
Skypeck (drums), Brian Overstreet (guitars), E. J. Dyce (vocals,
trumpet, maracas), and Captain Phil McGee (alto & tenor sax).
Early highlights include the upbeat "Keep Smilin'," the punchy
"Give It Back," and "Down On The Bluff", a nice laidback piece
with lead vocals by Harold Sundance' Thomas and slide guitar
from Luther Dickinson, lead guitarist with the Black Crowes and
the North Mississippi Allstars. The disc jumps into a jazz
direction with the next few tracks, including the instrumental
"Samurai," and "Spinning Around," which serves as an
autobiographical piece on the band's beginnings and history.
"Monkey Suit" is a torrid funk workout, and "Spartacus" is
another instrumental that sounds like a muscular meeting of
Memphis and late 60s Miles Davis, with the added bonus of Cody
Dickinson's electric washboard for good measure.
Speaking of bonuses, there's a "Bonus" 11th track, "Save Our
Soul," a fantastic tribute to the music that made Memphis famous
in the 60s that features vocalist James Govan in a pure soul
mode, plus Hope Clayburn on sax, Steve Dolan on trumpet, and
Rick Steff on Hammond B-3.
25 to 30 years ago, music like this wasn't hard to find. It made
you dance and made you feel good. Somehow, over time, it fell
out of favor and basically dropped off the musical map. With
their mix of soul, R&B, jazz, and rock, FreeWorld brings it all
back like it used to be, and suddenly it's like it never went
away in the first place.
--- Graham Clarke
ROOTSVILLE CD REVIEW (Belgium)
From The Bluff
FreeWorld, een steeds wisselend collectief van muzikanten
rond de harde kern Cushing/Green/Skypeck/Overstreet/Dyce en
McGee, neemt het niet zo nauw met de stijlgrenzen zoals die
werden uitgezet door de muzikale separatisten. Bij Freeworld
geloven ze in de integratie van verschillende genres zonder
onderscheid van origine of moeilijkheidsgraad of wat dan ook.
Zelfs een poppy deuntje kan bij hen amnestie krijgen.
Het resultaat van deze ingesteldheid werd breed uitgesmeerd op
hun nieuwste, en onderhand vijfde, CD. De mengelmoes van stijlen
kan eerst wat vreemd overkomen, maar naargelang je jezelf
onderdompelt in hun muziek en je je hun visie enigszins eigen
maakt, wordt alles ineens klaar als pompwater. Het resultaat zou
men simpelweg jazz kunnen noemen. Maar, foei, we zijn weer in
onze ouwe gewoonten van -in vakjes steken- vervallen. Echter,
als je jazz beschouwt als een verzamelnaam voor muzikale
onderstromen die op één of andere manier wars zijn van al te
makkelijk in het oor liggende niemendalletjes, dan kan het weer
wel. Het kind moet immers een naam hebben om het te kunnen
"Keep Smilin'" geeft van bij het begin de drive aan die door de
ganse CD leeft en met stuwende blazersriffs zitten we middenin
die zuiderse swampige soul beat. In "Give It Back" voert een
funkgroove het nummer naar gezellige hoogten, waarna de Memphis
soul van "Time On The Mountain" op een laidback popdeun gaat
gelijken. De tredmatige chung-da, chung-da wordt opgefleurd door
Brian Overstreet's wah-gitaar. Cushing zingt de Grateful
Dead-lyrics met heilige overtuiging.
"Down On The Bluff" is als soulnummer dan veel beter gediend van
de vocals van Harold Sundance' Thomas. Ze illustreren perfect
de lyrics over de Mississippi die traag doch krachtig en breed
door Memphis snijdt. Een prachtig arrangement geeft dit nummer
nog een meerwaarde. En on top of this' krijgen we nog eens het
prachtige slide-gitaarwerk van gastarbeider Luther Dickinson.
De elastische Tower of Power sound in het instrumentale
"Samurai" wordt voortgebracht door het vaste blazersgezelschap
van de band met ondulerende bassbewegingen van Richard Cushing.
De trompetsolo is van E.J. Dyce, de tenorsax solo is van Art
Edmaiston. Zes minuten mooie blazerij die doen denken aan de
Nog meer soulfunk in "Spinning Around". Trompettist Dyce zingt
op Zappaiaanse wijze de story van Greenworld en Dr. Herman Green
plakt hier een tenorsax solo tegenaan als ware hij John Coltrane
in hoogsteigen persoon. Straffe gast. Overstreet brengt ons met
een zware overdrive gitaar terug naar deze zijde van de
In "Monkey Suit" trekt Overstreet nog meer laken naar zich toe
met zijn hyperkinetische chunk-funk overdriven gitaar en
pyrotechnisch-psychedelische solo in de jungle van apeland. Een
supersnelle solo die Van Halen achter zich laat. Dit alles
stevig ritmisch onderbouwd door superdrummer David Skypeck en
bassist-bandleader Richard Cushing.
Nog meer van Overstreet's, ditmaal donkere, gitaarwerk zit er in
"Simmer Down" een rock die net lijkt opgerezen uit de bayou. Een
dorische gitaarsolo glijdt als een roofzuchtige alligator door
de vettige wateren tussen de mangroves.
"Not Alone" is dan weer heel andere koek. Een etherisch geval,
een kwetsbare stem en een akoestische José Feliciano' gitaar,
begeleid door de cello van Richard Thomas in de lange intro,
gaat over in een Gilmouresque gitaarsolo in een Yes-achtig
muzikaal klimaat, door Cushing's sitar en een mijmerende trompet
van Dyce helemaal in de psychedelische sferen gekatapulteerd.
In het instrumentale "Spartacus" mag de achtenzeventig jarige
Dr. Herman Green zijn ding doen op de saxofoon. In de liner
notes van de CD worden parallellen getrokken met Miles Davis'
meesterwerk "Biches Brew". Daar kan ik mij bij aansluiten. Green
leeft zich helemaal in in de rol van Miles, zij het op saxofoon
in plaats van trompet. En Overstreet gaat Mahavishnu John
McLaughlin achterna. Green sluit af met een sax-fiff over een
batterij octavers. Schoon.
De bonustrack "Save Our Soul" is een Stax-soul oefening. Een
pamflet als het ware voor het behoud van de originele rhythm n'
blues. James Govan neemt hier de lead vocals waar, met een stem
die ons met weemoed aan Otis Redding herinnert. De B-3 is van
Rick Steff en Steve Dolan en Hope Clayburn blazen
respectievelijk op de trompet en de saxofoons. Real soulmusic.
Dit is één van de meest veelzijdige platen die ik de laatste
tijd hoorde, gebracht door rasmuzikanten die een heel scala aan
stijlen samensmelten tot simpelweg GOEIE MUZIEK. Moet
beluisterd worden met kritisch oor en zal niet door uw mand
De naam van de band is niet zomaar een lukraak gekozen titel,
maar een statement : Free World ook voor de beoefening van de
muziek. Ik sta er achter en ga nu op zoek naar hun vroegere werk.
FreeWorld, an always changing collective of bandsmen around the
core, does not take Cushing/Green/Skypeck/Overstreet/Dyce and
McGee this way narrow with the style borders such as that was
turned off by the musical separatists. FreeWorld believes in the
integration of several genres without distinction of origin or
level of difficulty or whatever. Even poppy tune can them get
The result of this attitude was widely spread out their newest,
and fifth, CD. The hodgepodge of styles is possible firstly what
strangely to happen, but as immerses himself you in their music
and you their vision slightly own makes oneself, becomes
everything all of a sudden ready as pump water. The result one
simply jazz is able call. But, foei, we are in our ouwe habits
of - expired in boxes putting. However, if you consider jazz as
a verzamelnaam for musical undercurrents which are in one or
other manner true of already too easy in the ear located
niemendalletjes, then are possible it. The child must be able
quote it a name has to.
"Keep Smilin'" indicates of at the beginning the drive which
lives by the entire CD and with driving blazersriffs we sit in
the middle of that southern swampige soul music beat. In "Give
It Back" funkgroove conduct the number to sociable altitudes,
whereupon the Memphis soul music of "Time On The Mountain" on
laidback headstock tune will resemble. Tredmatige chung-da,
chung-da are cheered eup Brian Overstreet wah-gitaar. Cushing
sing the Grateful Dead-lyrics with saint conviction.
"Down On The Bluff" as a soul music number then the much have
been served better of vocal of Harold `Sundance' Thomas. They
illustrate perfectly the lyrics concerning the Mississippi which
slowly yet by Memphis cuts strongly and widely. A splendid
arrangement gives still an appreciation to this number. And `on
top or this' get we once more splendid slide-gitaarwerk of guest
worker the Luther Dickinson.
The elastic Tower or Power sound in the instrumental "Samurai"
are produced by the fixed fumarole companionship of the link
with ondulerende bass movements of Richard Cushing. The trumpet
solo are of E.J. Dyce, the tenorsax solo are of Art Edmaiston.
Six minutes beautiful blazerij which do think Crusaders of the
Soulfunk still more in "Spinning Around". Trumpeter Dyce sings
in Zappaiaanse a manner the story van Greenworld and Dr. Herman
Green sticks here tenor sax solo against as if were he John
Coltrane in hoogsteigen person. Straffe guest. Overstreet bring
back with a heavy overdrive jet ear us to this side of the
In "Monkey Suit" Overstreet draw Laeken still more to itself
with its hyperkinetic chunk-funk overdrives jet ear and
pyrotechnical-psyhedelic solo in the jungle of apeland. A
high-speed solo which obtains of behind itself late. All this
firmly rhythmically founded super drummer David Skypeck and
bassist-bandleader Richard Cushing.
Still more of Overstreet, this time dark, jet ear work sits
there in "Simmer Down" a rock which seems net risen from the
bayou. Doric gitaarsolo slide as a rapacious alligator by the
greasy water between the mangroves.
"Not Alone" are then very other wafer. An ethereal case, a
vulnerable voice and acoustic `José Feliciano' jet ear,
accompanied by the cello of Richard Thomas in long intro,
continues in Gilmouresque gitaarsolo in Yes-achtig a musical
climate, Cushing sitar and a musing trumpet of Dyce entirely in
psyhedelic environments gekatapulteerd.
In the instrumental "Spartacus" the seventy-eight people whose
birthday it is Dr. Herman can be do Green thing on the
saxophone. In the liner notes of the CD parallellen are drawn
with Miles Davis' master work "Bitches Brew". There I can
dovetail myself. Green imagines oneself itself entirely in the
role of Miles, they it on saxophone instead of trumpet. And
Overstreet follow Mahavishnu John McLaughlin. Green concludes
with sax-riff concerning a battery octavers. Clean.
The bonustrack "Save Our Soul" music is Stax-soul an exercise. A
leaflet as it were for the conservation of the original rhythm
`n' blues. James Govan observe here the lead vocal, with a voice
which us remind rescue with melancholy to Otis. B-3 is of Rick
Steff respectively and Steve Dolan and Hope Clayburn blows on
the trumpet and the saxophones. Real soulmusic.
This is one of the most multi-purpose CDs which I heard the last
time, race bandsmen brought which amalgamate a complete scale to
styles to simply GOEIE MUSIC. Must be listened to with critical
ear and by your basket will fall. The name of the link has not
been zomaar chosen haphazard a title, but a statement: Free
World also for the beoefening of music. I stand and go now in
search of their former work. Dada.
Uit de Blind Racoon stal komt de volgende schijf
waar ik zeer kort en bonding
over zal zijn.
Deze mannen zetten een sfeer neer ala The Band, Meters, funky
stuff, en veel
new-orleans genot. Need i say more, dit is een top-album met
variatie van een aantal meer dan goede muzikanten, die het
vooral verdienen om
meer bekendheid te verwerven, en dat betekent dat U gewoon in
grote getale dit
album moet aanschaffen. Zeer geschikt voor Uw eigen gemoedsrust,
depressies, uitzinnigheid en meer hiervan. Het eerst enummer
"keep Smiling" laat meteen al zien met wat voor mensen we te maken
lekkere rock-invloeden, om vervolgens de rest van het album
alleen maar zeer
aangenaam verrast te worden. Nogmaals Freeworld is een ervaring
die je niet
snel doet vergeten. Je hebt het al door, ik laat verder niets
los over de
muzikanten, omdat het er heel veel zijn en vooral door U zelf
worden, Denk Neville Brothers, the Band, Meters en je wordt er
van.-Enjoy (Frank van engelen)
From the Blind Raccoon stole the next disk comes where I very
and order thing concerning will be. These men put down an
environment ala The Band, Meters, funky stuff, and much New
Orleans joy. Need I say more, these are top-album
with a lot of variation of a number more than good bandsmen,
deserving more acquire reputation, and that means that YOU must
buy this album
simply in large getale. Very arranged for your own repose,
depressions, uitzinnigheid and more of this. First song Keep
straight away to try with what kind of people we hebben-hele
nice make rock
influences, it to surprise vervolgens the rest of the album only
agreeably. Once again FreeWorld are an experience which you do
not do forget
rapidly. You have it already, I let through further nothing
concerning the bandsmen, because it as lot of have been
especially heard and
by YOU yourself must become, think Neville Brothers, The Band,
Meters and you
become gladly of it complete. - Enjoy (Frank of angels)
Music Review: FreeWorld - "From The Bluff"
Written by Richard Marcus
Published October 30, 2008
My one claim to fame as a kid in the early seventies was that my
aunt's boyfriend was in the band Lighthouse. As that very rarely
impressed anyone my age, most kids were into the Partridge
Family or at best The Beatles, the information that he played
electric viola in a rock and roll band meant that sort of
knowing the late Don Dinovo never really bought me that much
status. It wasn't his fault, or Lighthouse's either for that
matter, for although the band did enjoy moderate success with
hits such as "Sunny Days", they were never that popular among
the pre-pubescent crowd.
Aside from their associations with my vain attempts at reflected
fame, Lighthouse will always stand out in my memories as being
the first rock and roll band I knew who used instruments I had
only ever associated with orchestras before. In their hey-day
they not only had the standard compliment of guitars, bass,
drums, and keyboards they also featured a horn and a string
section. In many ways they were probably the first fusion band
that I knew of, but even more importantly they broadened my
perspective as to what popular music could be. It was through
Lighthouse that I discovered my appreciation for funk, R&B, and
Of course the first time I saw footage of James Brown, Sly And
The Family Stone, George Clinton, or any of the other great soul
and funk performers, I was knocked out. The energy, the power,
the sex - no wonder they never played that stuff on am radio
stations in "Toronto The Good" in the early seventies. (Toronto,
Ontario was referred to as "Toronto The Good" for the longest
time due to the province of Ontario's absurd liqueur licensing
laws, which made it almost impossible to be served alcohol on a
Sunday.) In fact, to this day you can still only buy alcohol in
either an officially designated beer store or a wine and spirits
store. The consequences would have been too sever to contemplate
- a whole generation of White Anglo Saxon Protestants (WASPS)
might have grown with a sense of rhythm, and that just wouldn't
Since those early funk and soul deprived days, I've spent many a
fruitless hour listening to music that people were passing off
as R&B, soul, or funk and being gravely disappointed with what I
heard. Instead of horn sections that exploded or who could blow
soft and sultry, there was a mishmash of pathetic strings that
was supposed to send my heart soaring and the sound of something
occasionally bleating in the background that could have been
horns. So listening to FreeWorld's, a band I've never heard of,
new disc, "From The Bluff", distributed by Select-O-Hits, wasn't
a step I took lightly. Their promotional material promising
music that combined funk, R&B, and soul with "the energy of jam
band rock and the improvisational sophistication of jazz"
strained at the limits of what I could believe. I've heard way
to much middle of the road dreck be referred to as "soulful" for
me to have much hope that this disc would be any different from
countless previous letdowns.
The last thing that I expected was to be blown out of my seat
from the first track on the disc. "Keep Smilin'" opens with a
driving electric guitar and expands to include an incredibly
exuberant horn section that proceeds to kick out the jams for
the rest of the song. I was still reeling from that when "Give
It Back" slunk into my headphones. You've heard of "walking
bass" I suppose? This track has a slinking bass line that sets
the tone for the whole song as it shimmies and shakes through
and around the rest of the instruments for the whole song.
The core group of FreeWorld is only six guys, but somehow they
manage to sound a lot bigger than two saxophones, trumpet,
guitar, bass and drums should. Sure on some of the songs they're
joined by special guests, but they are only rounding out what is
already there. It doesn't hurt that on tenor saxophone Dr.
Herman Green brings over sixty years of playing experience with
him, including time with everybody from John Coltrane and Miles
Davis to Bob Weir (Grateful Dead), but it takes more than one
man to make a band and each of them (Richard Cushing vocals,
bass, and sitar; David Skypeck drums; Brian Overstreet guitar;
E.J. Dyce vocals and trumpet; and Captain Phil McGee alto and
tenor saxophone) plays with enthusiasm and a skill level that
you don't normally find outside of jazz bands.
The other thing about these guys you have to know is that ten of
the eleven songs on "From The Bluff" were written by the band.
That isn't something I've come to expect from most R&B and funk
bands today. Hell, how often do you turn over any of these
recordings being churned out by the hit machine and see the
majority of the music written by the person whose album it
supposedly is? Never to hardly ever just about covers it.
These guys not only write the majority of their material, they
seem to be able to write whatever they want. For as well as the
funk and rock stuff mentioned above, the song "Down On The
Bluff" is a great gospel style number in praise of the
Mississippi River, (featuring a great guest vocal by Harold
"Sundance" Thomas and slide guitar by Luther Dickinson of the
Black Crowes). The track that follows right after it, "Samurai",
features some great jazz style soloing over a long and easy funk
beat, and features Art Edmaiston adding some extra depth with
his tenor and baritone saxophones.
It's no wonder that these guys, FreeWorld, have shared the stage
with everyone from Levon Helm to Dr. John. I don't think I've
heard another group of musicians who I could honestly say sound
like they'd be equally at home in either The Band, Parliament,
or Weather Report. Sometimes people deride those who are
multitalented with sneering comments like "jack-of-all trades
but master of none". Well, I don't think anyone would even dare
to say something like that about FreeWorld. No matter what they
set their minds to playing on "From The Bluff", it sounds like
they were born playing that genre.
Many years ago when I first heard the band Lighthouse, I loved
the sound of horns playing with the elements you'd normally find
in a rock band. Little did I know how rare it was going to be to
find a popular music band that would have the same quality of
sound as Lighthouse. Obviously FreeWorld don't sound the same as
Lighthouse, (although if they added a string section I bet
they'd do a fine job on "One Fine Morning") but what they have
in common is the ability to incorporate a multitude of styles
into their sound and turn it into something that's uniquely
their own. Once you hear FreeWorld for the first time you'll not
be able to forget them, and I bet you'll be able to recognize
them the next time you hear them playing
The Bloomington Alternative
From the Bluff
Swirldisc SD 78453 630
Memphis six-man band FreeWorld's fifth CD, From the Bluff, is a
delightful admixture of influences: horn-driven soul/funk
rhythms, modern jazz, Frank Zappa cacophonic sound mixtures and
1960s to early 1970s rock, with powerfully sound lyrics that are
both streetwise and philosophical, in the best of the San
Francisco hippie tradition.
FreeWorld was founded in 1987, when its bassist/lead and backing
singer, Richard Cushing, approached legendary Memphis jazz
saxman Dr. Herman Green about forming a band. Now 78, Green had
played and recorded with the likes of B.B. King, Miles Davis,
Lionel Hampton, John Coltrane, Clark Terry, Bob Weir and many
others in a 63-year career.
Now consisting, in addition to bandleaders Green and Cushing, of
David Skypeck, drums; Brian Overstreet, guitars; E.J. Dyce,
trumpet, lead and backing vocals; and Captain Phil McGee, alto
and tenor saxes, FreeWorld is a creatively eclectic band that
readily combines Memphis soul/funk with bebop and avant-garde
jazz, with a powerful dose of 1960s-early 1970s rock and a
delightful dollop of Frank Zappa.
But it does more than just combine influences -- it melds them
into a distinctive sound where all the elements flow together in
one dynamic stream of engaging sound, with the solid songs and
instrumentals on this CD all written (except for one) or
co-written by band members Cushing, Overstreet, Skypeck and
My last "Blues and More" talked of the various strains within
contemporary blues, particularly blues-rock as exemplified in
Cincinnati's Kelly Richey. But of course R&B and soul also
influenced and developed the blues, and jazz styles and
jazz-rock fusion also had their say.
FreeWorld is an excellent example of how those latter influences
came into play and produced in FreeWorld a potent brew that
combines the soul/funk underpinnings of Memphis R&B with the
soaring flights of musical experiment that characterize modern
jazz. The result, in From the Bluff, is a listener's delight.
Joining FreeWorld on this CD are many special guests, who will
be discussed in terms of their musical appearances. They combine
with FreeWorld's core to produce a truly extensive,
full-throated sound that really opens up the musical
FreeWorld commands the opening three tracks pretty much by
itself, with the addition of East Memphis Slim on keys and the
dynamic gospel shouts of backing singer Jackie Johnson.
These first three tracks, "Keep Smilin'," "Give It Back" and
"Time On The Mountain," are very much in the horn-driven Memphis
soul/funk groove, but already in Dr. Herman Green's sax solo on
the second track, "Give It Back," branching into a bebop sound
that nicely blends traditional soul playing with jazz elements.
"Keep Smilin'" and "Time On The Mountain" are philosophical
songs about finding peace with oneself, with "Time On The
Mountain" more pensive than "Keep Smilin'," while "Give It Back"
devotes itself to assertively holding on in a rough, rough
The fourth track, "Down On The Bluff," is another pensive song
on finding peace, placed squarely in its Memphis setting, with
lead vocals by Harold "Sundance" Thomas and moody slide guitar
from Luther Dickinson, guitarist with the Black Crowes and the
North Mississippi Allstars.
The musical shape takes a noticeably different direction,
directly into modern jazz, in the next two cuts, the
instrumental "Samurai" and the autobiographical song on the
band's origins and history, "Spinning Around." But both are
still built around the Memphis soul/funk rhythmic core, even as
they lay on this foundation an edifice of atonality structured
from modern jazz. Art Edmaiston, whose baritone sax has already
been felt, lays down a jazzy tenor sax solo, as does FreeWorld
trumpeter E.J. Dyce. Herman Green articulates a gritty bass
vocal line, "I'm the man!" to "Spinning Around."
"Monkey Suit," a philosophical funk treatment on survival and
compromise in the business world, is an exploration into jazzy
funk and funky rock, with a cacophonic Frank Zappa-like
instrumental break with Stax Records maestro William "Nokie"
Taylor's talking trumpet joining merrily in with the babble.
The eighth cut, "Simmer Down," is another philosophical song
about not blowing one's cool that is notably built around a pure
funk groove. "Not Alone" continues with the streetwise
philosophy in a more lyrical way, with Richard Thomas's cello at
the beginning, and later, with Richard Cushing on sitar.
"Spartacus" is another Memphis soul-funk/jazz instrumental that
starts out with horns and percussion from the electric washboard
of North Mississippi Allstars' drummer Cody Dickinson and
others, and ends with stunningly distorted guitar work from
The bonus 11th track, "Save Our Soul", is straight-ahead Memphis
classic gospel soul number in tribute to the genre, with James
Govan handling the gritty vocal chores with an aplomb that
combines Wilson Pickett and Otis Redding echoes, along with the
sax of Hope Clayburn, the trumpet of Steve Dolan and the Hammond
B-3 organ of Rick Steff.
There's truly stinging guitar throughout from FreeWorld's Brian
Overstreet, who elegantly burns with wah-wah and other special
effects, jazz, acoustic and electric rock and soul playing. He's
unafraid to approach the unconventional, to extend to the limit
the potentialities of his axe, on which he demonstrates
thoroughly dedicated mastery.
The backing vocals of Jackie Johnson, Robert "Tex" Wrightsill
and the band members Cushing and Dyce provide some positive
harmonic underpinnings as well. Another area of mastery here is
in the song endings -- sometimes just sudden drop-dead,
sometimes extended mini-symphonies of codas, but never quite
what one expects.
FreeWorld and friends have a demonstrated magnificence
throughout From the Bluff, a magnificence that flows easily
throughout, and one that readily combines elements from an
extensive array of genres to produce a sound that, while
unashamed to echo the past masters, still possesses its own
From the Bluff was produced by iconic Memphis producer Jim
Dickinson, who's previously recorded Bob Dylan, the Rolling
Stones, Aretha Franklin, Sam and Dave, Arlo Guthrie and others,
and is also graced on the front and back covers and on the CD
itself with original artwork from Memphis artists David Lynch
and Lamar Sorrento, thus making it a visual as well as an aural
treat -- one that's already become one of this writer's favorite
CDs for 2008.