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Blue confounds narrow radio programming

Greasy Jass
Greasy Jass
By Buddy Blue

Clarence Records: 1997

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This review first appeared in the November 29, 1997 edition of the American Reporter.

The key to Buddy Blue's failure to make the big time is all contained on his latest CD: The man has too much talent for radio. One of San Diego's favorite sons, Blue defies categorization because he brings so much to his music. Blues, jazz, rockabilly, jump, country, bluegrass, Cajun, gospel – there's no American style that hasn't crept into Blue's work over the years.

What makes "Greasy Jass" so damned delightful – as well as dooming it to commercial obscurity, given the shallowness of contemporary radio programming – is that nearly all of those styles make themselves heard on his latest release. From Johnny Cash to Percy Mayfield, Count Basie to Elvis Presley to Bill Monroe, "Greasy Jass" is a rocking, rollicking distillation of modern American music.

Blue is a throaty, evocative singer who has a shimmer to his voice than can break your heart. And if anything, he's an even better guitarist and composer – two reasons the Beat Farmers never really recovered from his departure after their second album.

Previous albums from Blue have tended to stick to the rockabilly and blues side; getting to hear him break out into some jazz is a treat. Even when playing fairly straight rock 'n' roll, Blue has always improvised on his solos – but the structure of jazz really lets the listener hear how good he is when taking a theme and reworking it eight different ways.

More than any other album he's made over the years, solo or with the Beat Farmers or The Jacks, "Greasy Jass" showcases Blue's strengths -- an encyclopedic knowledge of and deep feeling for nearly all musical forms – while avoiding his only real artistic weakness: his tendency to get bored when doing the same old thing.

Because that's the only style not on "Greasy Jass" – the same old thing.