One of the more vastly underrated guitarists on the blues scene today is Alex Schultz. He's known to many as the former guitarist with The Mighty Flyers, and more recently has done some outstanding session work for Maryland-based Severn Records.
Schultz's work on recent Severn releases has been frequently applauded in Blues Bytes, most notably for his incredible playing on Tad Robinson's latest album, Did You Ever Wonder?
Severn gives Schultz the opportunity to spread his wings and show off his prodigious talents on Think About It, his first solo release. The result is a superb album of blues guitar, with side trips into other styles.
Schultz is a guitar player ... period. He doesn't sing on this disc, but he's lined up a solid array of guest vocalists: Finis Tasby, Lynwood Slim and the aforementioned Robinson. Each singer brings his own style to the sessions, resulting in a widely varied but consistently excellent collection of songs.
Kicking things off is a mid-tempo Louisiana swamp blues, "Done Got Over It," originally recorded by Guitar Slim. Finis Tasby brings a relaxed down-home quality to the vocals, with Jim Jedeikin contributing a blazing baritone sax solo just before Schultz launches the first of many memorable guitar breaks. He has an uncanny ability to lure the listener into thinking they are getting something good but not great, then turning up the intensity and delivering incendiary guitar licks.
Schultz is at his best when he's playing jump blues, and the Chuck Willis party stomper, "Be Good, Be Gone" showcases his abilities with this style. Lynwood Slim is an appropriate choice for vocals on this tune; in fact, he comes across so well on all three of the cuts on which he's featured that I went scurrying into my CD collection looking for past Lynwood Slim CDs. Mando Dorame (tenor sax) and Alberto Marsico (Hammond organ) are also both featured on their respective instruments.
Lynwood Slim is also heard on the late night, smoky blues of "I Don't Want Your Money, Honey," with Schultz playing extremely tasteful, jazzy guitar. Dorame chips in with another nice sax solo.
The always fine singer Tad Robinson takes lead vocals on three cuts: the soulful blues shuffle "Let's Start Again," the Wynona Carr song "Act Right," and the slow, mournful Charlie Rich number "Who Will The Next Fool Be," the latter undoubtedly being the high point of this disc. All three cuts are highlighted by great Hammond playing from Marsico, a native Italian who is one of the unsung heroes of this album.
In addition to the opening number, Tasby does an outstanding job on The Five Royales classic "Think." Robinson and Lynwood Slim provide backing vocals here. Schultz backs Tasby with nice B.B.-style guitar on the slow blues "I Love The Woman."
Tasby's final song, and the disc's closing number, "Walkin' and Talkin'," is an original that could easily be mistaken for a Slim Harpo song if a harp break was inserted somewhere in the tune.
Schultz assembled a different group of backing musicians, with the exception of retaining the same Royal Crown horn section, for the recording of three instrumentals for this CD, including the slow blues shuffle "Big Time," the jumping "Lexington Express," with red hot T-Bone Walker-style guitar, and the self-descriptive "Rhumba & Orange."
Think About It will hopefully give Schultz more recognition in the blues world. He certainly deserves it.
--- Bill Mitchell
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