Dave Specter/Lenny Lynn
Blues Spoken Here
If you caught the title track of Blues Spoken Here playing on the jukebox at your favorite blues tavern, chances are you’d never guess it’s from a blues guitarist’s album; it’s not until nearly two minutes into the swingin’, horn-riffin’, jump-blues cut that a toneful guitar solo takes control. And if you caught the crackling guitar lead that introduces the second track, a little-known T-Bone Walker number called "Why My Baby (Keeps on Botherin’ Me)," you might be wondering "who’s that guitar player?" even as you groove on Lenny Lynn’s smooth vocals.
Dave Specter’s pure artistry as a guitarist/composer/arranger is fully illustrated on Blues Spoken Here. Specter is confident enough to surround himself with outstanding talent and share the spotlight equally — no stage hogging here. It’s the tenor sax solo by Eric Alexander on "Señor Blues," for instance, that blows hot and tough.
There’s plenty of elbow room, too, for Rob Waters’ thick, equally skillful Hammond B-3 phrasing, with Specter’s guitar solo as the perfect foil. He switches gears from rhythm fills to an elegant solo line, bending rich, round single notes with equal parts cool subtlety and fire before stepping back for Waters’ solo run.
Is this blues? Jump-blues? Swing? Jazz? The answer is a resounding yes, yes, yes and yes. Specter uses the phrase "blues that swing" in the liner notes, so if you need a category, say Specter and Lynn play blues that swing — hard. Listen to "Kiddio," which Specter, Lynn and company turn into suave cabaret — jumpin’ horns and champagne sparkle.
With some 30 years in the music business, primarily as a jazz vocalist, Chicagoan Lynn’s voice fits flawlessly with Specter’s spit-polished, uptown swing-blues. Lynn sings in the tradition of Joe Williams and other vocalists from the heyday of Basie & Ellington, splendidly soulful and always sophisticated. His warm, luscious baritone always sounds spontaneous, utterly hip and fresh.
Flawless performances abound. Former Lynn sideman Eric Alexander throws down some notable tenor-sax solos, and John Brumbach and Dez Desormeaux also play tenor, and the resulting horn parts and choruses swing whether they’re soloing, laying down a rhythm track or playing tight harmonies with Specter on guitar. Check out the rhythm section’s fine work on "Moanin’."
Specter, Lynn and the assembled "Bluebirds" do here what only seasoned pros can: They make this ultra-cool music sizzle, and they do it with a posh breeziness that makes it all seem effortless.
— B.J. Huchtemann