Thursday, June 04, 2015

Clayton Doley - Bayou Billabong (2015)

bayou (noun) American, chiefly Lower Mississippi Valley and Gulf States
1. a marshy arm, inlet, or outlet of a lake, river, etc., usually sluggish or stagnant.
2. any of various other often boggy and slow-moving or still bodies of water.

billabong (noun) Australian
1. a branch of a river flowing away from the main stream but leading to no other body of water; a blind or dead-end channel.
2. a creek bed holding water only in the rainy season

Australian Clayton Doley is a superb Hammond B3 and keyboard player who calls himself a blues man but categorizing his music isn't that simple. You could safely classify his work as both jazz and R&B, or based on his voice just as easily believe he is a lounge act (the latter isn't meant to be an insult) because, despite the earthiness of his music, Doley's voice is too smooth to be associated with the likes of Buddy Guy or John Lee Hooker. Instead, he bears a resemblance to Harry Connick.

Doley has had a long career down under and around the globe. He's had residencies in Sydney and Toronto. He's played with Steve Cropper and Donald "Duck" Dunn (Booker T & the M.Gs.), Joe Bonnamassa, his fellow countryman Jimmy Barnes, members of Tower of Power, and many more.

The album title is a result of Doley's new eight song CD, Bayou Billabong, being recorded in both Sydney and New Orleans and using musicians from both locations. Each track employs a horn section of trombone, trumpet, and sax playing on the sessions in their own countries.

Also featured on this fine new set are members of Trombone Shorty's band and an outfit called The Treme Funktet. A trio of female backing singers that should remind you of the Raelettes assist everywhere.

The only instrumental is the title tune that includes contributions from Ganga Giri playing Australia's indigenous musical instrument, the didgeridoo. He adds some interesting and unusual flourishes to what is otherwise a very funky track. Doley takes a hot riff from this piece and reuses it in a completely different arrangement on "Starting Right Now" that proves how diverse you can be with one, identical, short bar of music.

Connick fans should be happy with the poppish "I Live for You." Derwin "Big D" Perkins handles electric guitar and his solo on "We're Still Changing" is a real jazzy treat.

There is a law that every blues album must allow space for a song about drinking to excess and "Waiting for Coffee" satisfies that requirement but, like the rest of the record, it isn't a downer.

All of the songs are Doley originals and are, according to the artist, inspired by "the great New Orleans piano masters."

Doley also has an excellent website.

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