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October 2002

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Bryan Lee
Six String Therapy
Justin Time

Bryan LeeAfter two back-to-back live albums where he basically covered only overdone Chicago blues classics, New Orleans-based Bryan Lee came back in 2000 with the excellent (and almost entirely self-penned) Crawfish Lady, which very capably fused the blues with the sounds of New Orleans Meters-styled funk and even a bit of zydeco. 

On his recent Six String Therapy (Justin Time), the chubby but nimble guitarist teams up with producer Duke Robillard's band to revisit an older style of New Orleans R&B, namely the style of the '50s exemplified by Smiley Lewis (covered twice, with "Go On Fool" and "Bumpity Bump") and Paul Gayten's "You Better Believe It." 

Contrary to his 2000 release, this CD is heavy on covers, but this time Lee wisely chose relatively little-known titles and avoided the "Key to the Highway" type of stale standards. One exception is "Gee Baby, Ain't I Good to You," which works to Mr. Lee's advantage because of the surprise effect. The usually gruff-sounding Lee is totally convincing as a jazz crooner in this number. 

With Sax Gordon and Doug James on saxes and Bruce Katz on piano and organ sharing solo time with Lee's guitar, this is one of the guitarist's most satisfying efforts. 

Oh, and lest I forget, there is one worthy original composition here, called "The Little Prince", about Bryan Lee's one-year old godson; a refreshing subject, a very heartfelt performance. 

--- Benoît Brière

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