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Midwestern swing on the Left Coast

Ain't Nobody's Business
Ain't Nobody's Business
By Preston Coleman and Tobacco Road

Self-released: 1991

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This review first appeared in the April 1991 issue of The Adams Avenue Post.

For whatever reason, it is nearly impossible for bands from San Diego to get recording contracts. But the members of jazz/swing/blues combo Tobacco Road haven't let that stop them from releasing their first CD.

While the costs of self-producing a CD can be steep, Tobacco Road has plenty of practice at putting out its own recordings. This is the fourth album the band has put out (the first three were on cassette only).

Where the first three albums shared the spotlight among all the members of Tobacco Road, "Ain't Nobody's Business" features 73-year-old bassist/vocalist Preston Coleman. Pianist Sue Palmer said the band decided to focus the new release on Coleman in an effort to gain a national recording contract. In addition to Palmer and Coleman, Tobacco Road also consists of April West on trombone, trumpeter Phil Shopoff, drummer Sharon Shufelt and saxophonist Chris Klich.

Musically, "Ain't Nobody's Business" ranges from jazz standards through 1950s R&B to straight blues. Songs include covers of Fats Waller's "Honeysuckle Rose," Nat King Cole's "Call the Police," R&B standards "Lovin' Machine" and "Shake, Rattle & Roll" and the blues standard title track.

What gives this album its unique character is Coleman. His vocals are quirkily appealing: After 60 years as a musician, his timing is impeccable, although his tone is now rough and worn. But having a singer who is also in the rhythm section can make for marvelous interplay between the voice and beat, and that certainly holds true here.

The recording quality is excellent, as good as on most commercial releases. The arrangements have a Midwestern swing feel to them (anchored, no doubt, by Coleman's Chicago roots). The band is tight; the horn players solo with taste and imagination.