Duke Robillard Band
Dangerous Place
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Even though Duke Robillard has become almost a superhuman force in blues-guitar rock, he doesn't always feel the need to assert his electrified bravado. He has occasionally preferred to lay off the scorching licks and instead play simple, subtle rhythm parts behind killer horn sections, especially on 1987's Swing and 1992's After Hours Swing Session, where Robillard served as a singer and backing player while covering a lot of his jazz favorites.

For Dangerous Place, Robillard has met himself somewhere in the middle, melding swing with fuzzed-out guitar. Robillard penned all but two of the 12 tracks, including a couple with horn player Al Basile, and his precision guitar playing occasionally steps to the front, swapping melody and harmony parts back and forth with sax and trumpet on "Going Straight" or picking up a rare solo on "Dangerous Place" or "Duke's Advice."

Robillard has been building eclectic song structures since his Roomful of Blues days. On last year's Duke's Blues he offered a traditional tribute to guitar masters like Albert King, B.B. King and T-Bone Walker, and much of his recent work has been laden with robust, burning guitar assaults. He steps back into restrained and radical blues and jazz hybrids on Dangerous Place, energetically updating 1930s and '40s swing.

Despite the intricacies of the song structures, the true charm of Dangerous Place is that it's a fun record with light-hearted meanderings and upbeat, catchy riffs that twist and shake in your head. And with Robillard's vast talents as performer, producer and singer continuing to flourish, the only thing that's dangerous about his playing is for us to underestimate it.

-- Matt Pensinger

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Boulder, CO, USA.