Take My Rider
Publicity: Blind Raccoon
Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © December 2022
From the way I see it, Douglas Avery is the kind of man who can pretty much do anything and what he does choose to do, he does very well. As a surfer, he’s been atop the waves in many of the world’s most famous surfing destinations; As a photojournalist, he’s internationally renowned in the sports, fashion and music worlds; and as a musician, his early career found him deeply involved within the lively Los Angeles jazz scene, and currently – from what I’m listening to – he seems to have found himself quite at home with the blues.
On his debut release, Take My Rider, Douglas Avery – on vocals, harmonica and flute – is joined by some of SOCAL’s finest players. They include: Carl Sonny Leyland on piano; Franck Goldwasser on guitar and horn arrangements; Ralph Carter – the disc’s producer – on bass, bongos, organ and horn arrangements; Johnny Morgan on drums; Aaron Liddard on saxophone and horn arrangements; Jerome Harper on trombone; and Simon Finch on trumpet. Featuring an hour of diverse styles of blues, the disc’s fourteen tracks include eleven Douglas Avery originals, and three covers.
This is a song of his from when Little Walter, who really wasn’t little, was little… as in only being nineteen years old. It’s a little one… as in just two minutes, but like Walter, it’s big on style. The jumper is called “Just Keep Lovin’ Her” (M. Jacobs) and it’s the perfect vehicle for Douglas to showcase his dynamic harmonica and vocal chops.
There’s something about a song with the word ‘jelly’ in it that makes me think it just reeks of the blues. If you want to compound that and indicate the song is totally drenched with the blues, calling it “Jelly, Jelly” works good on me. That’s what this one’s called and that’s what this one is. Sounding like they’re more from Southern Mississippi than Southern California, Douglas and Franck are nailing the vocals, harp and guitar with this down-home Delta blues vibe.
On a much livelier tune titled “Blind Owl Boogie”, Douglas and Franck are going at it again, but they’ve left the back porch and are now going toe to toe on a runaway train. With a ‘Hooker and Heat’ feel, this one is indeed a full throttle smoker with the rhythm of Ralph and Johnny fueling the train.
There’s no better way to pay tribute to the great John Mayall than to do a song that features killer harmonica and piano leads, both of which he excelled at. That appropriately chosen song is from John’s 1967 release titled Blues Alone and it’s called “Sonny Boy, Blow!” With a rollicking rhythm going on behind them, Douglas and Carl totally tear this one up on said instruments.
A straight up Chicago blues style shuffle titled “Safety First” is probably my favorite of the lot. Right after a short but fabulous piano intro by Carl, Aaron joins with some robust sax chords and just like that, all of my movable body parts went on automatic pilot. Then, once Ralph and Johnny got into a smokin’ rhythm groove; Douglas started belting the hell out of the blues – both vocally and with his harp; and Frank started laying down scorching blues guitar licks; my ability to focus on what I wanted to say went right out the window while I focused on what I needed to hear. That said, it easily took five or six listens just to get me through this paragraph. Wow!
Like Douglas, before I became totally consumed by the blues some forty-plus years ago, I was quite the jazz fan. That may be the very reason “Green Wave” is one of my favorite musical tracks. With Ralph nailing it on percussion; Frank shining on jazzy guitar chords; and Carl faintly flirting with the piano keys; this quasi-instrumental features Douglas reaching back to his jazz roots with a masterful and mesmerizing performance on the flute.
The disc closes with a most beautiful song that definitely caused me to have the most relaxing six minutes of my week. It’s a duet titled “Looking Over A Rainbow” and it features Douglas softly and emotionally pouring his heart out to someone who obviously deserves it, while Carl softly and emotionally executes one of the more masterful piano pieces I’ve heard.
Other tracks, on what I have no problem saying is a must have album, include: a cover of Billy Boy Arnold’s “Bad Luck Blues”; the title track, “Take My Rider”; “Malibu Burnin'”; “How Long Can This Last?”, “Leaving Trunk”; “Good To Me”; and “Riding With The Devil”.
Should you like to find out more about Douglas Avery and this release, just go to his website – www.douglasaverymusic.com. Remember, wherever you go and whomever you speak with, please tell them their friend the Blewzzman sent you.
“The Blues Is My Passion And Therapy”
Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro
Blues Editor @ www.Mary4Music.com
2011 “Keeping The Blues Alive” Award Recipient