I must confess that when I saw this album and read about it, I was more than a little intrigued. Like many people my age I have been fully aware of Pat Travers and remember him from the Seventies and Eighties in particular, but that was from a blues-based hard rock perspective and certainly never expected this! As the album title and cover may lead you to believe, what we have here is a selection of big band classics from the Forties and Fifties, which Travers has arranged so the electric guitar is now the lead instrument. Some are purely instrumental, while others do have vocals, and the result is something which I must confess is really interesting. Over the years I have seen various rock musicians take jazz songs and move them into a pure rock context (Steve Waller, ex-MMEB, always performed an incredible version of Glenn Miller’s “6-5000” when I saw him), but here we have a slightly different approach in that Travers has worked hard to keep the jazz sound. Piano is often the foundation of the music, with drums which combine both jazz and rock approach, and a bass that sometimes is electric and others is upright. He also doesn’t shy away from having brass sections when he feels it is right.
While Glenn Miller’s “In The Mood” is treated much more as rock, others such Duke Ellington’s “Take The ‘A’ Train” is more into the jazz arena as he allows himself to play alongside the lead horns, emphasising notes, before going into a solo where he maintains very much the jazz feel. It is an interesting album, and for someone such as me, who is happy to listen to pure jazz as well as hard rock/metal and other forms, there is a lot here to enjoy. What Hammerheads will think of this I have no idea, whereas I am sure jazz purists will be our buying copies just so they can set fire to them, but if you have an open mind this is a very pleasant jaunt through some well-known standards. 7/10 Kev Rowland
RUFFYUNZ is a partnership between Randy Pratt (Cactus/The Lizards), Emmy winning engineer JZ Barrell, and singer Ed Terry and a collection of drum and guitar masters. Guest artists include guitar legend Pat Travers and drummer T.C. Tolliver from The Plasmatics. The songs are mainly about sex, animalistic sex, with a couple of “Dark Dread” numbers thrown in for bad measure.
“Funky, Heavy & Tight” is RUFFYUNZ credo!
Bassist Randy Pratt on bass, pedals and riffs and is best known for his work with The Lizards & Cactus. Singer Ed Terry has sung live with Stevie Wonder, Sister Sledge, John Oates, Sissy Houston, Slash and recorded with John Lennon, Keith Richards, Talking Heads, Simply Red, Little Steven, David Bowie, Rod Stewart, Fleetwood Mac, David Lee Roth, Madonna, Whitney Houston, Aretha Franklin and Tina Turner! JZ Barrell handles recording, engineering, mixing and arranging…he earns his writing credits. Jesse Berlin is the band’s “go-to-first guitarist” usually and helps set a bedrock with embellishments.
The band’s concept is to use “known” drummers and guitarists as guests on their records. Once the guest guitarist has done his or her thing, Jesse trades solos with them…and he really throws down the gauntlet, as he SHREDS!!
Says Randy, “The songs are written bass/drums first, creating a lot of grooves and BIG RIFFS. From decades of reading Bass Player magazine, it seems most song writing bassists don’t write on bass…so I hope that gives us a bit of a unique vibe….plus my ever growing collection of uncommon effect pedals, not intended for bass, influence the way I play and the stuff I come up with. After the sessions, my partner JZ Barrell arranges the music into more defined song form. Usually, Ed Terry writes his vocals and lyrics, quickly, and records them at his home studio. Amazingly, it seems like we go with his first takes 90% of the time! Also, he writes most of his vocals to bass and drums, which is ‘different’, too, isn’t it? Josh and I produce the records. Then guitar is added to make the compositions come alive, searching for that sweet spot where James Brown and Black Sabbath collide.”
RUFFYUNZ next record is in the works now with and exciting new cast of guest players!
Los Angeles, CA – After 40 plus years of slinging his six-string all over the world, you’d think Pat Travers would be slowing down, settling into his well-worn blues rock groove that has earned him great critical acclaim as well as a massive worldwide fanbase. Instead Travers appears to be ramping up and looking for new horizons to conquer! On the heels of his superb 2015 album Retro Rocket, Travers brings what is sure to be called one of the most unique records of his distinguished career: a full album of swinging big band classics from the ‘40s & ‘50s given a whole new sound and energy courtesy of Travers’ superb skill as an arranger and interpreter. The album is called simply Swing! and it features full band rock arrangements of Louis Prima’s “Sing Sing Sing,” Duke Elington’s “Take The ‘A’ Train,” Glenn Miller’s “In The Mood” and many more! The result is an incredible listening experience of familiar tunes played like you’ve never heard them before.
Mr. Travers explains the genesis and creation of the album: “A little while ago I had the ‘40s channel on satellite radio playing and I started thinking that it would be fun to get into that Big Band Swing era music. I thought that I could find a place for my guitar style in there and I asked the people at Cleopatra Records if they thought so too. They did and with Cleopatra’s endorsement, I started to research the music and the bands and players from that time period.
The first thing I discovered was that these Big Bands were a lot like the rock bands that came along in later years. They had a lot of power (sixteen horn players!) and the bass players and drummers were powerhouses. The soloists, guys like Ray Anthony on trumpet, had a ton of flare and chops and I found them very inspiring.
I was fortunate to have my friend and great keyboardist Michael Franklin help me with the horn arrangements and getting the players for the recording sessions. Working with a baritone sax, trombone, alto sax, and trumpet was one of the best studio experiences I’ve ever had. These guys can play! Plus having Michael Franklin’s brother Tim Franklin playing the upright bass just made everything legit.
I also wanted to have my trio of Tommy Craig (drums) and David Pastorius (bass) try out some of the classic ‘40s tunes in a more rocked out minimal style. I think that we have been very successful in adapting the Big Band sound to a more contemporary blues/rock thing. Classic Big Band hits like ‘Sing Sing Sing’ and ‘In The Mood’ were a ton of fun to record.
All in all I think what we’ve done here is make that great old 1940s era Big Band music sound accessible to contemporary audiences and it certainly does swing!”
Swing! will be available on both CD (in a special digipak package) and vinyl in your choice of BLUE or RED as well as digital!
Track List: 1. Sing Sing Sing 2. Opus One 3. Is You Is Or Is You Ain’t My Baby 4. In The Mood 5. Take The ‘A’ Train 6. Let The Good Times Roll 7. Apple Honey 8. Tenderly
Necessary cookies are absolutely essential for the website to function properly. This category only includes cookies that ensures basic functionalities and security features of the website. These cookies do not store any personal information.
Any cookies that may not be particularly necessary for the website to function and is used specifically to collect user personal data via analytics, ads, other embedded contents are termed as non-necessary cookies. It is mandatory to procure user consent prior to running these cookies on your website.