Featuring the leading blues man of his time Buddy Guy, the highly regarded gospel tinged Rootsy blues of The Holmes Brothers, and pianist Pinetop Perkins from the classic Muddy Waters band, this DVD should have been an excellent blues primer. In fact, sad to say the project falls short of that mainly because of a seemingly complete absence of editing, meaning that Buddy Guy's set actually starts and finishes on a slow blues, while the Holmes Brothers must surely have delivered something better during their set, which includes a faux pas from guitarist Wendell Holmes on an introductory phrase.
This album confirms the talent of a leading blues songwriter. Sometimes the Truth is a milestone in the career of this San Antonio, Texas, singer/guitarist. Part of this set was recorded in the New York studio of Neal's good friend Popa Chubby (who makes noted vocal appearances on three tracks and plays guitar on five), while the rest was cut in Europe with a little help from noted Frenchies Nico "Wayne" Toussaint and Fred Chapellier.
Helmed by T-Bone Burnett and Craig Street, the soundtrack to the music-intensive TV crime drama series gets ultra-hip artists to cover songs not necessarily associated with them—all with eerie musical backgrounds that match the program's tone. Unfortunately, the intriguing concept fares better on the small screen than on the big speaker, as artists like Richard Thompson, Lucinda Williams, and Joe Henry, among others, get lost in a uniformly listless production. Exceptions are Wendy Melvoin & Lisa Coleman's original instrumental "Crossing Jordan Themes," the Holmes Brothers' take on Blind Willie Johnson's "You're Gonna Need Somebody on Your Bond," and Alison Krauss' tackling of Blind Faith's "Can't Find My Way Home." Series star Jill Hennessy debuts with Tom Waits' "You're Innocent When You Dream" and Bob Dylan's "It's all Over Now, Baby Blue" and acquits herself well enough.
The early-1960s group the Jazz Brothers featured trumpeter Chuck Mangione and pianist Gap Mangione in a quintet also including up-and-coming tenor Sal Nistico (shortly before he joined Woody Herman's Orchestra), bassist Steve Davis and drummer Roy McCurdy; lots of young talent in that band. Their second of three recordings (the first has yet to be reissued) has reappeared as this CD. Those only familiar with Chuck Mangione's later work will be surprised to hear him playing bop-oriented music and showing the strong influence of Dizzy Gillespie. Four standards (including "The Night Has a Thousand Eyes" and "Just You, Just Me") alternate with an obscurity and three group originals. The music has spirit, even if it is a bit derivative and predictable.