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Americana Highways: "Rees' Music Cruises Like a Convertable"

John Apice

Mar 2, 2024

Sculpted with a Mose Allison quality & surprisingly maintained with sophistication & steeped in a bluesy discipline.


Rees Shad’s Galahad Blues by John Apice for Americana Highways 2/28/24

Big band blues – that’s something not heard with clarity every day. But the funky vocalizing Rees Shad articulates impressively in “The Galahad Blues.” At times like a rocking Randy Newman the pure pulse of the dark street with shoes that have taps, grooves invested in words jivey and cool, money that’s call gravy and bras uplifted and deposited with a stsh of paper money.  Rees’ music cruises like a convertible.

“Mustard In the Gravy,” is Jack Kerouac blues loaded with descriptive words, sung in a slide trombone voice. It’s hipster jive married to a swing melody tied to the human heartbeat. Three decades into his career Mr. Shad’s expressive music has bottomless resources.

There are 11 parameters of The Galahad Blues (Drops March 1/Shadville Music/40:00). Many come wrapped with a coating of melody significantly polished with distinguished lyrics in an electrifying showcase. “Breathless, Alarmed & Confused,” is superb followed by the driving “Take It On the Chin,” all sculpted with a Mose Allison quality & surprisingly maintained with sophistication & steeped in a bluesy discipline.


What makes this set genuinely interesting is that Rees Shad doesn’t present it like a set of oldies. He’s showing where these vintage arrangements can be performances of modern flexibility & where they could’ve gone had they survived their era. Music doesn’t grow old – some tend to reinvent through newer arrangements. Ears that haven’t heard it, or aren’t familiar with it, will hear it for the first time.

This music is danceable. Even for today. Who’s going to deny they don’t enjoy dancing close with a partner on a polished floor? The entire band plays with proficiency. This is the essence of good music – smartly conceived by a wise hand.

Highlights – “The Galahad Blues,” “Mustard In the Gravy,” “Breathless, Alarmed & Confused,” “With a Smile,” “Rattling on the Tattling Line,” “Hands of Dice & Wire,” “Working on Working It Out,”

Musicians – Rob Kovacs (drums/shouts), Jeff Link (electric bass/shouts), Doug Ford (organ), Carlos Valdez (percussion/shouts), with Tony Aiello (reeds/horn arrangements), Larry Campbell (violin), Ira Coleman (upright bass), Tom Major (drums) & Daniel Persad (trumpet).


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