From The Bluff Reviews


From The Bluff Reviews


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 10:30 p.m.

Chris Herrington - Memphis Flyer


The Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
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, that carried 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 slice of chunky funky monkey, upbeat and quirky, but the follower, Time on the Mountain waxes too Sons of Champlin-ish, a group could be fairly mediocre fairly often. A huge point of attraction, though, is Brian Overstreet and 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 Bluff) tinged by a Taj Mahal-ish folk sense. The mellowly jazzy instrumental Samurai gives the horns elbow room but Monkey Suit starts out by lighting a 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 time occurrence that sets the CD aglow amid fire and heat.

From the Bluff is mostly very good material a few times caught by 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 couple paragraphs ago, and I'll very happily listen to these guys over those any day of the week, but this CD tells me FreeWorld hasn't scaled its own heights yet. A bit more concentration in the guitar and horns and they'll have it. I'm waiting for someone to do for this sound what the first few 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" nonsense. Geez, we're well past the Mad Ave. overkill stage in CDs by now. I don't 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 long-the "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 attribution.

*[Our response to the "bonus cut" comments at the end of the review...
In many 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 was Mick Jagger and Stones who brought us that existential lament, "You can't always 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 the bands founders is sax legend Herman Green, a 78-year jazz and blues vet whose 63-year career lends history and musicality to this tight and funky group.

The band explores a variety of Memphis grooves, kicked along by tough horns, sharp guitar work, and gritty vocals from some unusual suspects. A rough-voiced James Govan brings back sweet soul memories on "Save Our Soul" and Harold "Sundance" Thomas lends passionate pipes to the gently rolling, 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?

Blues News ­ Germany


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 rather less.

Soulbag ­ France


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 variety!
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 and pleasant.

Rock Œn' Reel Magazine

From the Bluff
3 Stars (out of 4)

Blues, soul, gospel, rock Œn' roll, rockabilly, jazz, rhythm Œn' 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 ŒSave 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.

Norman Darwen

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 Soul

Tämän levyn kanssa kävi niin, että tämä tuli minulle ihan puun takaa. Ensikuuntelun aikana, jolloin samalla värkkäsin jotain, meni koko homma täysin ohiŠ 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 varsin hauskaa.

Funkimman osaston ystäville tarkistuksen paikka!

Mikke Nojd


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!

Mikke Nojd

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 calosc.
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 jazz.

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 player.

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

Grahame Rhodes

Weltmusik Magazin

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 a cross between Creedence Clearwater Revival and Otis Redding, with The Memphis Horns added in for good measure. Among the writers of the song were FreeWorld band members lead vocalist and bassist Richard Cushing and drummer David Spypeck. The final mix was tweaked and approved by the legendary Willie Mitchell. SoSyou know the song has got to be good. And that it is!

Blues Bytes

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 career.

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 ŒSundance' 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 Œ60s 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 Œ60s 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


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 aanhalen.

"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 ŒSundance' 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 Œon 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 Jazz Crusaders.

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 funkstraat.

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 ŒJosé 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 Œn' 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 Šsimpelweg GOEIE MUZIEK. Moet beluisterd worden met kritisch oor en zal niet door uw mand vallen.
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. Dada.



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 amnesty.

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 jazz.

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 funkstraat.

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 toŠ 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 heel veel 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, feesten, depressies, uitzinnigheid en meer hiervan. Het eerst enummer "keep Smiling" laat meteen al zien met wat voor mensen we te maken hebben-hele 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 gehoord moeten worden, Denk Neville Brothers, the Band, Meters en je wordt er heel blij 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, which especially deserving more acquire reputation, and that means that YOU must buy this album simply in large getale. Very arranged for your own repose, festivals, depressions, uitzinnigheid and more of this. First song Keep Smiling let 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 very agreeably. Once again FreeWorld are an experience which you do not do forget rapidly. You have it already, I let through further nothing separately 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)

Blog Critics Magazine

Music Review: FreeWorld - "From The Bluff"
Written by Richard Marcus
Published October 30, 2008
Blogcritics Magazine

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 soul.

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 have done.

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 Dyce.


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 possibilities.
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 world.
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 Brian Overstreet.
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 unique approach.
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.

George Fish