Ann Rabson
Music Makin' Mama
Alligator 4848
Ann Rabson, the boogie-based, pounding piano force behind Saffire-The Uppity Blues Women, was a solo performer for 20 years before she founded Saffire, and she continues to do solo gigs. The spotlight falls on Rabson's vocals, piano and guitar playing, but in the true nurturing fashion of the title, she lets a group of outstanding guests make significant impacts on the tunes.

Guitarist "Steady Rollin' " Bob Margolin and former Roomful of Blues sax man Greg Piccolo stand out on "I Haven't Got a Clue," and Piccolo's sax tracks pump up "Baby, Every Once in a While" and "What I Don't See Can't Hurt Me." John Cephas adds acoustic guitar to "Givin' It Away" and "Ain't That a Shame," and Phil Wiggins drops by to spice up "Givin' It Away" and "Serial Love" with his harmonica.

It's interesting to note Rabson's first instrument is guitar and that she didn't start playing her Mary Lou Williams-inspired piano until 1978. Songs like "One Meatball," "He's Got Me Goin,' " and "Skin and Bones" are straight vocals and acoustic guitar from the solo act.

Fans of Rabson's raucous boogie-woogie piano will find plenty to enjoy among the 16 cuts here, including her own title track composition. "Hallelujah, I Just Love Him So" and the instrumental "Blue Boogie" also put the focus on Rabson's sparkling and spunky workouts.

The material ranges from old tunes like "He's Got Me Goin'," popularized by Bessie Smith, to "No Later On," a new song written by Austin bass player Sarah Brown. Music Makin' Mama has Saffire's flavor and humorous, uplifting tone. And for those wondering if this is the end of Saffire, Rabson insists in the liner notes it's strictly a side project concentrating on her individual musical interests and accomplishments.

-- B.J. Huchtemann

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Boulder, CO, USA.