The Ed Palermo Big Band – I’ve Got News For You: The Music of Edgar Winter – Sky Cat Records

by | Jan 9, 2022 | Jazz CD Reviews | 0 comments

A wintertime treat? Nope, it’s a Winter treat.

The Ed Palermo Big Band – I’ve Got News For You: The Music of Edgar Winter – [TrackList follows] – Sky Cat Records, SC211001 58:52 [10/15/21] *****:

Tribute albums can be many things. They can be a re-evaluation of familiar material, akin to turning a telescope into a microscope, i.e., taking a musician’s oeuvre and examining it minutely. Tribute albums can be a way for a devotee to demonstrate expertise of another musician’s output and place a personal stance on what they like and why. Tributes can bring to light forgotten songs which demand reappraisal. Or they can be an excuse to jam on music someone has grown up with and loves.

It is the rare arranger and musician who can take another artist’s music and do something both homage and honorific; to provide an opportunity for listeners to enjoy something recognizable and also fresh and different. Ed Palermo is such a person. On past projects, Palermo has focused on Frank Zappa, the British Invasion, Paul Butterfield and Michael Bloomfield, Todd Rundgren, and in late 2020 the Ed Palermo Big Band issued I’ve Got News For You: The Music of Edgar Winter. Palermo has included Winter tunes in his ensemble’s concerts and gigs, so I’ve Got News For You shouldn’t come as a surprise to Palermo’s fanbase. What might be a surprise is Palermo didn’t tape Winter’s biggest, well-known radio successes. There is no interpretation of the classic rock radio station staple “Frankenstein” or top-20 hit single “Free Ride.” In fact, some material isn’t from Edgar Winter records but rather from LPs from his brother Johnny Winter, which sometimes featured Edgar on keyboards, alto saxophone, and vocals. There are also tracks Edgar Winter performed but did not pen.

A recurring root throughout the recording is the blues. Johnny Winter was a blues man through and through, but the blues also suffused Edgar Winter’s releases, and in order to rightfully and righteously magnify those blues elements, Palermo incorporates hard-belting singers and guitarists to elevate the Winter translations. I’ve Got News For You commences with the burning boogie-blues of “I Hate Everybody,” from Johnny Winter’s 1969 release Second Winter (although uncredited on his brother’s album, Edgar Winter wrote the music, the changes, and the arrangement on “I Hate Everybody”). Palermo’s adaptation features contributions from guitarist Jimmy Leahey and soulful singer Carlos Murguía. Another searing, blues-drenched number is “Tobacco Road”—written and first recorded in 1960 by John D. Loudermilk and later a hit for the Nashville Teens—which was a memorable cut on Edgar Winter’s 1970 debut Entrance and became a live Winter favorite. Guitar legend Robben Ford is a standout on this tale of poverty and powerlessness, and Kimberly Davis (a member of Niles Rodgers’ disco/rock band Chic) provides a heart-rending presentation which evokes the narrator’s desire to destroy his childhood home and start over again.

Album Cover for Ed Palermo-Edgar Winter - I've Got News For YouThe highpoint is the seven-track ‘Winter’s Dream’ suite from Entrance. It’s a bold move to do a relatively unknown song set and refashion it in a large ensemble setting. And of course, in Palermo’s hands, the result is fantastic. The medley begins with “Entrance” which works well as an introductory overture and Deb Lyons’ elegiac singing complements the lyrics about the need to keep a positive outlook. Keith Anthony Fluitt’s soaring voice lifts “Where Have You Gone” to a celestial stature. Chrissi Poland continues the sacred-esque vibe during the spiritualized “Rise to Fall” and the similarly themed “Fire and Ice,” which is highlighted by pianist Bob Quaranta, who supplies a supple solo in a lengthy instrumental segment followed by Palermo’s solid alto sax soloing. “Hung Up” has a bluesy treatment and displays Fluitt’s wide range: he can go low and hit the highs with equal aplomb. Davis returns on “Back in the Blues,” where Palermo also shines again, and Lyons brings everything full circle on the closing coda “Re-Entrance.”

Another album apogee is the swinging “Jump Right Out”—Winter’s nod to Mose Allison, one of Winter’s musical heroes—which contrasts jazz and blues components and slips in some slightly philosophical lyrics analogous to Allison’s best compositions. Another surprise is the classic pop standard ”You Are My Sunshine.” Winter never released or recorded this eminent standard but did a live arrangement with his first band, White Trash. Winter was inspired by renditions by Allison and Ray Charles, and there seems to be a hint of both artists in Palermo’s arrangement which showcases Vaneese Thomas’ soulful singing. Aptly, Palermo concludes with Roy Alfred’s timeless “I’ve Got News For You,” which was done by Charles. Winter also did it on his 1971 LP Edgar Winter’s White Trash. Here, Thomas and Paparozzi duet as a couple having a fight filled with recrimination, betrayal, and a break-up. If anyone missed hearing I’ve Got News For You: The Music of Edgar Winter search it out and give it a listen. Highly recommended for large ensemble jazz enthusiasts; those who like blues with horns; Winter buffs who want to dig deeper; and obviously Palermo followers.

(Ed Palermo – bandleader, arranger, alto saxophone; Cliff Lyons – alto saxophone, clarinet; Phil Chester – alto saxophone, flute; Bill Straub – tenor saxophone, clarinet; Ben Kono – tenor saxophone, flute, oboe; Barbara Cifelli – baritone saxophone; Ronnie Buttacavoli – lead trumpet; John Bailey – trumpet; Steve Jankowski – trumpet, producer, recording, mixing, mastering; Charley Gordon – lead trombone; Mike Boschen – trombone; Matt Ingman – bass trombone; Bob Quaranta – piano (track 11); Ted Kooshian – electric keyboards, organ (track 3); Paul Adamy – electric bass; Ray Marchica – drums; Robben Ford – electric guitar (track 2); Kim Davis – vocals (tracks 2, 7, 13); Katie Jacoby – violin (tracks 5, 16); Vaneese Thomas – vocals (tracks 15-16); Deb Lyons – vocals (tracks 8, 14); Keith Anthony Fluitt – vocals (tracks 6, 9, 12); Chrissi Poland – vocals (tracks 5, 10-11); Rob Paparozzi – vocals (track 16); Jimmy Leahey – electric guitar (track 1); Carlos Murguía – vocals (track 1))

I Hate Everybody
Tobacco Road
Peace Pipe
All Out
A Different Game
Dyin’ to Live
Jump Right Out
Winter’s Dream Suite:
Where Have You Gone
Rise to Fall
Fire and Ice
Hung Up
Back in the Blues
You Are My Sunshine 
I’ve Got News For You

—Doug Simpson

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Album Cover for Ed Palermo-Edgar Winter - I've Got News For You

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