Are the BLUE FLAGSHIPS Europe’s most swinging blues band or bluesiest swing band? That’s the only point audiences and experts don’t agree on fully yet. However, their special mix of 40’s swing dance music and 50’s R&B makes everybody instantaneously feel like dancing. Undeniable to pundits and connoisseurs, the band is one of the last to cope with that particular sound from the so-called „Truman era“ (1945-53). As if proof was necessary, you’ll usually find quite a few lindy hoppers at each public concert the band plays.
This CD consists of compositions from AL SEARS’ band book and songs written by JIMMY „T99“ NELSON.
AL SEARS was a tenor saxophone player from the big-band era with a very personal sound that was easily recognizable. He is actually one of the „missing links“ between swing and rock’n’roll. Being a more than only decent successor to tenor-titan Ben Webster in the Duke Ellington orchestra, he later became an important advisor and musical backup to Allan Freed, the so-called „inventor of rock’n’roll“. He combined the time’s heavy beats with a simply irresistible swing, echoing both the dance halls of the thirties and the funky music to come.
JIMMY „T99“ NELSON was one of the most individual and gifted singers and songwriters of the period. His headstrong and poetic lyrics treat the usual blues subjects as love, being lonely, being left alone etc. (in a politically incorrect way of course ;-). But they go beyond most of what was produced then by odd humor and droll metaphors. NELSON recorded only a few dozen songs – after some minor chart successes, he disappeared from the scene at the end of the fifties. If you listen closely to these vintage recordings, you’ll discover an artist of amazing sense for the essential. At first „sight“, you might think the arrangements are simple and generic. At a second glance, you’ll hear lots of refined details giving these blues a very particular tinge even at „impossible“ tempo choices. On his last tour in Europe in 2004, THE BLUE FLAGSHIPS had the honor AND the immense pleasure to accompany this living legend of Texas blues. Jimmy really enjoyed to recreate the sounds of his youth and encouraged the band to go on with their concept of refurbishing lost treasures of early R&B when he claimed in public that „This is the closest to what we actually did back then ever since I worked with Maxwell Davis’ orchestra!“
To introduce RED HOLLOWAY means carrying coals to Newcastle: everybody knows RED, everybody loves RED. His versatility and almost proverbial reliability in any musical department made him a studio and band musician of highest demand as well as a much sought for soloist over 6 1/2 decades. Do you know anybody who was regularly asked to join by people like Billie Holiday, B.B. King, Sonny Rollins, Chuck Berry, Aretha Franklin, Horace Silver to name just a few?
Knowing the BLUE FLAGSHIPS from two successful tours in 2002 and 2007, RED was immediately enthusiastic about the SEARS/NELSON project when he was asked to board. The whole band was electrified by RED’s power, wit and highly inventive improvisations he delivered night after night on this two-week tour through Switzerland. The live recordings (4-track only!) prove that everybody on and off stage had great fun.
N.B. Those missing SEARS’ most famous tunes like „Castle Rock“ or „Tina’s Canteen“ and T99’s hit „Meet Me With Your Black Dress On“, are kindly asked to purchase two earlier FLAGSHIPS albums: „LIVE – feat. Jimmy T99 Nelson“, TCB 43053 (2003) and „After Hour Joints“, Jazz Elite Special 73749 (2007).