It’s been a life of music – five decades in the case of Boz Scaggs, and spread far and wide with remarkable range in style and influence. From his early West Coast rock and soul bands, through his smooth '70s Hollywood years with hits like "Lowdown" and "Lido Shuffle," to his more recent explorations in R&B, jazz and the Great American Songbook, the versatile singer/songwriter/guitarist has created a highly personal, unfailingly soulful repertoire. The latest edition, Out of the Blues, set for release on July 27, 2018 on Concord Records, finds Scaggs, born in Ohio and raised in Texas and Oklahoma, reconnecting with his earliest musical loves.
This album marks the final piece of an unofficial trilogy for Scaggs, which began with the Steve Jordan-produced albums Memphis and A Fool to Care. "I'm a child of the '50s," he explains, "and grew up on the music of my parents’ generation - the post war swingers, the Hit Parade era, the semi-classical Gershwin albums and the American songbook of show and film music. Then came early rock radio; with Elvis, Fats Domino, Chuck Berry and Little Richard, the high-watt late night radio out of Nashville and Chicago and doowop out of the East Coast. All the same stars that dotted the musical heaven our generation grew up under. Particular to my coming of age in the Southwest was hearing that crazy stuff out of south Texas and Louisiana. It was something different from that which my fellow teenyboppers in other areas were hearing. These albums, to some degree, are an exploration of those early influences, tracked through different periods of my experience.”
The self-produced Out of the Blues finds Scaggs applying his iconic voice and gritty guitar skills to a set of vintage classics by such blues greats as Bobby "Blue" Bland, Jimmy Reed and Magic Sam, an unexpected and stirring reading of Neil Young's "On the Beach" and original compositions by the songwriter Jack Walroth.
For the occasion, Scaggs assembled a star-studded studio band including such prestigious players as guitarists Doyle Bramhall II, Ray Parker Jr. and Charlie Sexton, bassist Willie Weeks, drummer Jim Keltner and keyboardist Jim Cox, as well as Boz himself on guitar, bass and vocoder, and longtime friend Jack Walroth on harmonica.
"This project is sort of a manifestation of where I am in my life," Scaggs comments. "I've been doing a lot of shows these last years and have zeroed in on my voice and guitar in a way that only comes with lotsa live.”
"I'm basically a rhythm guitar player, and not that good technically, but I love the instrument and have my own style, one that ranges from seriously ragged to very infrequently bad-ass… At least in my dreams. But it’s the basic blues that have allowed me a foot in the door to a broader range of thrills as a player and inspired me to call Ray and Doyle and Charlie for these sessions. (I stay, quite naturally, and wisely in the background guitar-wise.)
"We recorded the rhythm tracks in four days, and then I left to go on tour, and I intentionally didn't listen to them until I got home a few months later. From the first playback though, I felt like we'd hit one out of the park."
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