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July 2020

Terry Hanck
I Still Get Excited
VizzTone / Greaseland Records

Terry Hanck

Veteran sax player / singer / songwriter Terry Hanck spent a bunch of years playing with legendary guitarist Elvin Bishop, but as a bandleader has released more albums than I can count. With nearly 50 years in the biz Hanck shows no signs of slowing down, as heard on his latest album, I Still Get Excited. Simply stated, it's a gem from start to finish.

Hanck ventured to Kid Andersen's Greaseland Studios to record the 11 tracks here, pulling in an all-star lineup of guests with Rick Estrin, Tracy Nelson, Chris Cain, Jim Pugh and Andersen contributing to the big sound we get on I Still Get Excited. Andersen also co-produced the album with Hanck, and his magical touch is quite evident. (Andersen could easily change the name of his studio to "Hitsville," considering the quantity AND quality of music coming out of there, although trying to use that name would no doubt have legal ramifications).

Hanck covers a lot of musical styles here, and  the opening title cut sounds a bit rockabilly-ish, with Pugh pounding on the 88s throughout, before the band heads into a Louis Jordan-style original, "Smooth Tyrone," highlighted by Johnny Cat Soubrand's jazzy jump blues guitar work and more great piano from Pugh. The Louis Jordan theme continues with "Early In The Morning," which features Cain laying down some very hot B.B. King-style guitar licks. Lisa Leuschner Andersen's voice is used to form a one-woman background ensemble similar to the Raelettes of Ray Charles fame, not surprising since Brother Ray also recorded this song. Hanck tears it up with a fiery sax solo, as he's going to do throughout the disc.

The original "Here It Comes" has a quirky beat and some of the typical Greaseland percussion effects, as well as featuring a Spanish-style guitar solo by Andersen. Next up is Estrin's guest spot on "Come On Back,"  a blues shuffle with a back-and-forth interchange between Hanck and Estrin while Pugh comes in with an extremely hot piano solo.

"Rosita (No Wall Can Hold Our Love)" is the only instrumental on the album, a slow, late night jazzy blues that starts with a tasteful sax solo from Hanck while drummer June Core switches to using brushes for that very subtle rhythm. Pugh switches over to B3 for a mid-tempo version of Bobby Charles' "Why People Like That?," setting the stage for a version of Howlin' Wolf's "Howlin' For My Darlin'." Hanck does his own thing here, not trying to imitate Wolf on vocals (who could, really?), and Soubrand throws down a killer blues guitar solo.

The always wonderful Tracy Nelson joins in on a duet with Hanck on the soulfully pleasant mid-tempo shuffle, and then Soubrand turns it loose on guitar on the up-tempo jump blues "Hold It Right There." Closing the CD is a jazzy, upbeat version of Lightnin' Hopkins' "Feel So Bad," with Soubrand again stepping to the front with multiple stinging guitar licks.

I Still Get Excited has something for everyone, but especially for those who love good sax. Hanck and Andersen have a winner here, one that you will listen to over and over.

--- Bill Mitchell


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