Blues Music Magazine 2019

Blues Music Magazine
October 2019


The quality of musicianship Nancy Wright displays throughout her new release “Alive & Blue” proves her to be one of the finest tenor sax players in the country. This more than talented singer, songwriter, band leader, and sax woman, has been creating and playing music on the West Coast blues and jazz scene while touring around the world for a remarkable thirty years. She doesn’t appear to be stopping any time soon as her top-notch record showcases throughout. Three-time Blues Music Award nominee for “Sax Player of the Year,” Wright’s deep command of her instrument shows up on literally every track, whether playing blues, R&B, soul, or the deepest funk. With 12 songs, including five originals by Wright, this new effort should now be considered one of spunky Vizztone Records’ jewels. Recorded live at the oldest bar in San Francisco, the venerable Saloon, the generous one hour and 18 minute CD resounds with treasures, whether it be the opener, Wright’s own “Bugalu,” or “Been Waiting That Long,” which is only the first track on which she displays her often sultry, assertive singing. The jazzy and wordless tune, “Jo-Jo,” also written by Wright, is heartbreaking in its delivery and masterful in its interpretation via tone, color, and mood. The head surrounds marvelously played solos (here’s to you, keyboardist Tony Lafrano).   The four-piece all-male rhythm & roots band backs her wonderfully, as extended solos on several tracks, such as the oft-recorded Don Robie composition, “I Don’t Want No Man” prove. “Sugar Coated Love,” a staple blues tune sung by women singers, is probably Wright’s most successful matching of her vocals, the song, and her instrument. No honking sax here, just steady growth from melodious to growly fun. “Warranty” is yet another tune by Wright and probably the funkiest R&B tune on the album. She’s got a way with words on this track, and her sax perfectly suits the mood of her musical romp. The slow burn that makes up “Bernie’s Blues” could have been used in a noir film to great effect. Guitarist Jeff Tamelier just shines on this one, while once again, Wright’s note-perfect and at all times thought-provoking solos seem effortless. Sultry just ain’t an adjective. Wright’s “Rutabagas” closes out the CD with a jazzy instrumental, wrapping up a great night of music, and Kudos to engineer Robby Yamilov on a terrific recording. Nancy Wright arrived quite a while ago and now deserves to be rightfully placed as among the best!

– Joseph Jordan

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