Jaimoe’s Jassz Band
By Mike Greenblatt
That Allman stamp is all over drummer Jaimoe’s beautiful and rockin’ new “Renaissance Man.” As one of the two original Allman Brothers drummers (the other being Butch Trucks), Jaimoe set the foundation for a sound that will never go out of style.
Here, singer-songwriter-lead guitarist Junior Mack is the star. He wrote four of 10, sings so sweet and soulful and positively stings that guitar. His “Dilemma” is a perfect microcosm of Jaimoe’s Jasssz Band. Allmanesque to the utmost, it rocks with ferocity, settles into a mid-tempo groove before morphing into a gorgeous jazz interlude. Playing the part of Gregg on the Hammond B3 Organ is Bruce Katz, and his solo is perfecto.
“Drifting And Turning” would have been the album’s “Melissa” if “Melissa” wasn’t also here. It’s hard not to see this work through an Allman prism. Jaimoe, though, is smart enough to add to the stew by use of a pulsating horn section. The horns give it the uniqueness: trumpet, flugelhorn, saxophone (alto, baritone, soprano and tenor), depending upon the track. And don’t forget that flute! It’s a heady mix, satisfying and visceral. “Leaving Trunk” by Sleepy John Estes (1904-1977) has been done many times by many people, and here, in the hands of Junior Mack, it sounds positively revitalized. Not since Taj Mahal in 1968 has this song sounded this good. It’s followed by a stone blues Mack original, “I Believe I’ll Make A Change,” that could’ve been an Albert King song. It’s a beauty (as is Tony Joe White’s “Rainy Night In Georgia”).
“Hippology” is the perfect title for its lesson of cool, a swinging instrumental akin to the kind of brassy feel-good jams that the Ray Charles Orchestra used to specialize in. Jaimoe knows what to do. Still.