If you're the kind of guy or gal who gets turned on by the honkin' sound of a wild saxophone or think that Louis Jordan was the greatest musician who ever lived, then you need to take a listen to Sax Gordon's Have Horn Will Travel.
I was familiar with Gordon Beadle's name from his frequent session work on Rounder, Bullseye and Black Top albums, and from his work with Duke Robillard and Luther Johnson. But I still was not prepared for the pleasant surprise I experienced upon hearing Gordon's first solo CD. His intentions are announced immediately on the first number as he calls out "Have Horn Will Travel," then launches into a blistering horn solo that would make Big Jay McNeely proud. Nothing complements a good horn player as well as the sound of a Hammond B-3, and Tom West gets the job done on the big keyboard.
Gordon and West both excel at their respective instruments again on a soulful rendition of Jackie Gleason's old theme song, "Melancholy Serenade."
This genre of music wouldn't be complete without a few good novelty tunes, and Mr. Beadle contributes a Louis Jordan cover in "You Said She Wouldn't." This number is highlighted by a very good trumpet solo from Bob Enos, longtime member of the Roomful of Blues horn section. In fact, all of the Roomful brass guys are on this CD, as well as trombone legend Porky Cohen and guitarist Robillard.
Drummer Marty Richards stands out with his tribal percussion work on the instrumental "Hubcap Pete," which is also highlighted by some tasty cheesy organ from West.
The admonishing words "Hey you, with the long hair and the be-bop glasses and the saxophone case, get over here..." kicks off another old novelty number, "But Officer." Gordon pleads for mercy from a police officer, punctuating each line with a blazing sax riff.
The jazzy instrumental "Hallelujah" gives the entire band a chance to stretch out, again featuring exemplary percussion work from Richards.
Have Horn Will Travel closes in opposite fashion from how it started, this time with the slow, late night smoky jazz of "Deep River"... quite a change from the opening stomper.
Now that we know he can sing and lead a band, here's hoping for more of the same from Sax Gordon Beadle.
- Bill Mitchell
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