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Happy Hosting, Happy New Year - Rob Ellen
Steeped in Texas swing, hot jazz, cowboy songs and old time fiddle tunes The Western Flyers; Joey McKenzie (archtop guitar, vocals), Katie Glassman (fiddle, vocals) and Gavin Kelso (upright bass, harmony vocals) are a dream trio for all those into western swing, and people generally drawn and intrigued by a music that’s both complex, dripping in nostalgia and dance friendly.
Wild Blue Yonder has the trio pay homage to the music and writers of some of the finest songs of the idiom, both pre and post war. It makes for a most interesting listen, and when everything falls into place a little magic can be detected in the air. As champion fiddler Glassman; aided by McKenzie’s ace guitar (he started out on fiddle, and went on to win over 100 competitions and awards) and rhythmic bass of Kelso work up terrific versions of instrumentals Texas Fiddle Medley (“Smith’s Reel”, “Leather Britches” and “Jack Of Diamonds”) and a darting, upright bass and rhythm driven “Carroll County Blues” and others too.
Peppered with wondrous playing, Wild Blue Yonder has many occasions where the members get to perform stellar breaks, the work of Glassman on such tracks as “Old Fashioned Love” and, with McKenzie on lead vocals Mel Tillis old chestnut also has some of the sweetest fiddle one could imagine or dare ask for decorate it. Classy work by Glassman doesn’t stop here for she is likewise the focus of attention on “The Wild Dog” (instrumental), and with her elegant playing leading the unit into “Tennessee Waltz” she performs a beautifully relaxed lead vocal (warmed in tight harmony vocals) more highs are experienced. ‘Never No More” is another where Glassman’s presence is masterful, vocally and on fiddle as the song is given a chugging, Texas swing cum blues rendition.
Ever busy and awash in subtle nuances the trio are a delight from beginning to end. They dust down the old standards in stellar fashion as McKenzie leads the unit out of the traps with “You’re From Texas” (Cindy Walker) followed by a masterful version of “Along The Navajo Trail”. Quirky little number “I’m Gonna Sit Right Down And Write Myself A Letter” with McKenzie on lead vocals is performed with great aplomb.
Also of note is the not to be denied near frenetic paced version of “Sweet Georgia Brown” (the upright bass solo from Kelso is not to be missed). Western swing doesn't come much better; be sure to watch out for them if they are ever down your way.
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