Roy Gaines and his Orchestra – Tuxedo Blues – Black Gold Records BGR001237, 65:16 ****:

(Roy Gaines – producer, leader, guitar, vocals. (a majority of the musicians traded off during sessions) Woodwinds: Fred Jackson – alto sax; John Stevens – alto sax, bari. sax; Chris Mosert – tenor sax; Don Roberts – tenor sax, bari. sax; George Harper – tenor sax; Glen Berger – alto sax; Wilton Felder – tenor sax; Jackie Kelso – alto sax, clarinet; Frank Fontaine – tenor sax. Trumpets: John Pappenbrook, Rich Hofmann, George Pandis, Nolan Shaheed, Michael Harris, Brad Steinwehe, Mike Zonshein. Trombones: Eric Jorgensen, Kerry Loeschen, John Roberts, Les Benedict – trombone & bass trombone, Mike Daigeau.  Rhythm Section: piano – Art Hillary, Joe Sample; acoustic guitar – Barry Zweig; bass – Kevin Grandon, Edwin Livingston, Nick Sample; drums – Raymond Pounds vibes – Onaje Muray)

Roy Gaines is a blues guitar player and vocalist.  He also plays jazz piano.  He began his professional career as a teenager in Houston, Texas. Gaines through the years has mostly been a session player.  He was in Ray Charles’ big band in 1966.  He recorded a couple albums with the Jazz Crusaders.  He recorded with many great names such as Quincy Jones, Aretha Franklin, T-Bone Walker, and was with Harry Belafonte’s Las Vegas show in 1976.  He was with the Supremes in 1976 on their tour of Central and South America and later in 1977 with Diana Ross.  

Tuxedo Blues is a well-performed album of blues tunes backed up by a 17 piece big band.  It is mixed so Gaines’ vocals and guitar playing sound right up front. The first five tracks sound very much like Ray Charles big band in the arrangements.  It swings nicely and the band is really tight.  Gaines has that acoustic blues-type voice and style of guitar playing.  B.B. King and Ray Charles did come to mind as I listened. Gaines was involved in composing six of the twelve songs.  He sings a couple of standards from the past doing an interesting version of Bobby Troup’s Route 66 and a reworked version of Nat King Cole’s Calypso Blues, and renamed Reggae Woman.  

The sound quality of the album is excellent.  The liner notes have an explanation from Roy Gaines of how the project progressed, with some liner notes from Helen Borgers, a host on KKJZ Jazz Radio, Los Angeles.

TrackList:

1.    Send For Me
2.    Blues From Hell
3.    Good Old Days
4.    Rats In My Kitchen
5.    Thang Shaker
6.    Inflation Blues
7.    Miss Celie’s Blues (Sister)
8.    Come Home
9.    Reggae Woman (Calypso Blues)
10.  Rock With You
11.  Route 66
12.  Outside Lookin’In

— Tim Taylor