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Dave Specter – Spectified

Fret 12 Music

13 tracks, 72.25 minutes.

Dave Specter is a well-respected Chicago musician who has been recording since the early 1990s. As well as recording albums in his own name he has also produced for several Chicago players, including Lurrie Bell and Jimmy Johnson, as well as backing many of the great Chicago singers when they are on tour, notably in Europe. He also teaches guitar in Chicago. Dave does not sing himself and in the past has included in his band singers of the calibre of Tad Robinson, but on this all instrumental outing it is his guitar which does the talking.

The core band on this recording is Dave on guitar, longstanding bass player Harlan Terson, Greg Wyser-Pratte on drums and Brother John Kattke on keyboards. Pete Benson is at the keyboard for three tracks and there is some additional percussion by Victor Garcia on two tracks. The splendidly named Bo’ Weavil Brass provide horn arrangements on four tracks. David Hidalgo from Los Lobos plays accordion on one track.

Dave’s music has always been at the interface of blues and jazz, partly because of the clean guitar sound that he always achieves and a real sense of improvisation throughout the recording. There is an excellent rendition of King Curtis’ “Soul Serenade” but otherwise I believe that the material on this CD is largely self composed; however on my advance copy there were no writing credits.

The whole of the CD makes great listening and it is difficult to pick outstanding tracks. Many of the tunes have amusing titles such as “Stick To The Hip” and “Lumpus D’Rumpus”. The material ranges from the borders of jazz through Latin, Soul, Funk and Blues. Opening cut “Stick To The Hip” features an insistent guitar riff above the horns and is definitely on the jazz side of the divide.” Octavate’n” (no, I have no idea what the title means either!) is a similar sort of tune, with slightly tougher guitar. The classic “Soul Serenade” is beautifully performed, building from a quiet opening statement of the theme through solo opportunities for all the main players.

“Blues Call” is a moody Latin piece before “Alley Walk” definitely takes us into the blues and includes some slide guitar. There is also a reprise of the tune at the end of the CD played solo by Dave on acoustic guitar. “Wash Out” is another piece that revolves round an insistent guitar line but also has a fine organ solo. “The Funky Hunky” is an up tempo romp, again featuring the horns. David Hidalgo plays nice accordion on “Rumba And Tonic” to provide a real Cuban feel. “Azulado” is by a short head the longest track at 7.28 and is a slow paced, atmospheric piece with a relaxed Latin feel. “Slick Pick” concentrates on the lower register of notes, both guitar and keys. “See See Rider” does not seem to bear any relation to its more famous cousin “CC Rider” and it is a slow paced blues that brings to mind Ronnie Earl. “Lumpus D’Rumpus” bounces along and bears some resemblance to Freddie King’s “Hideaway”.

This is a fine CD, well played and produced. It should appeal to those who enjoy guitar playing and like a bit of jazz mixed into their blues. Dave also has an interactive website “Blues And Beyond” at the Fret 12 website where he discusses blues issues with other musicians and will respond to questions, the aim being to make blues more accessible to a global audience. That sounds like a very good objective and we should all wish him well with the venture.

Reviewer John Mitchell is a blues enthusiast based in the UK.

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