Electric blues on the edge of jazz. Seattle guitarist Chris Stevens presents his first CD, Bankshot, featuring all original material. On this mostly instrumental set, Chris plays the kind of jazz tinged blues lines he's been known to serve up in nightclubs and concert stages throughout the Northwest for many years. Also featured prominently on the disc are saxophonists Craig Flory, Brian Kent and Les Clinkingbeard. Ron Weinstein plays Hammond B-3 and piano on a number of tracks, and Greg Roberts and Chris Enghauser take turns playing upright bass. Todd Zimberg handles most of the drumming, but Alan Isaacson drums on "Skyscraper Blues," a tune that Chris co-wrote with notable west coast bluesman Tom McFarland.
"The songs mostly straddle the border between blues and jazz in a manner similar to, without aping, those classic Prestige and Blue note label albums by guitar, organ and sax driven bands led by guys like Kenny Burrell, Groove Holmes, Brother Jack McDuff, Jimmy Smith, Stanley Turrentine and Buddy Tate. The overall atmosphere of this CD is laid back, in the groove, cool. Some of these tunes would be right at home on the soundtrack of a James Ellroy movie, or playing in the background when Peter Gunn strolls into Mother's in his sharpest continental suit. When the going gets funky, as it does on "Prowlin'," it is a sophisticated funk, with the horns laying down a smooth line leading to thoughtful solos that unfold in their own time, carrying the listener along in a warm, insistent way. A deeper blues feeling takes the stage on some of these tunes. "Just Don't Call His Name" and "Skyscraper Blues" show off Stevens' uptown vocals (reminiscent of T-Bone Walker), and a rolling big band sound from a relatively small combo. "Freddie's Riff" takes us into blues guitar slinger territory, and "The Tickle Stick" and "Wrist Wrangler" keep us right there - but these days, Stevens' blues have way more to do with the urban stylings of a young George Benson, Kenny Burrell, or Stevens' friend and mentor, Tom McFarland, than with Stevie Ray Vaughan or Johnny Winter. "Blue Manchu" and the title tune show off Stevens' simmering solo style to good effect. The band is fine throughout, featuring well known Seattle players. Everybody settles into Stevens' groove, and the CD as a whole has a comfortable, lived in feel." - Mark Dalton, The Bluesletter
"If you like mellow, jazzy blues, you'd have to be in a pretty twisted mood not to like this CD very, very much! Chris' tone, particularly when playing the big hollow-bodied Gibson, is just gorgeous." - Mark Bristol, Blue Suede News