EDITORS NOTE: "MANY SHADES OF BLUE" DEBUTED AT THE TOP OF THE LIVING BLUES RADIO CHARTS AND IS CURRENTLY UNDER GRAMMY AWARD NOMINATION CONSIDERATION FOR BEST CONTEMPORARY BLUES ALBUM!
"If someone complains to you that they don't make "real" blues records anymore - albums that sound like lost classics yet retain the freshness of an individual - play Many Shades of Blue for them." ~BLUES REVUE
This remarkable brand new recording from renowned singer, songwriter, and harmonica virtuoso Gary Allegretto contains both electric and acoustic original material and features very special guests:
IVAN NEVILLE (The Neville Brothers, The Rolling Stones)
JOHN CEPHAS (National Heritage Award winning Bluesman from the duo Cephas and Wiggins)
JANIVA MAGNESS ('06 and '07 Blues Award winner, Best Contemporary Female Artist)
DOUG MACLEOD (Blues Award Nominee, Acoustic Artist of the Year)
RICH DELGROSSO (Blues Award Nominee, Best Instrumentalist)
Co-produced and engineered by Lenise Bent (Janiva Magness, The Band, Steely Dan and many more)
Mastered by Grammy Award winning Gavin Lurssen (John Lee Hooker, Johnny Cash, Allison Krauss/Robert Plant and many more)
"Harmonica wrangler Gary Allegretto is one of the classiest acts in the music business today, working only with the best backup musicians and taking the time to craft music noted not only for its quality but for its authenticity. Sure, he's a good-looking guy who aims for the ladies with his electric band, the Sugar Daddys, but his solo gigs feel more intimately honest, and what's best about his genuineness is its completely offhand quality. If someone complains to you that they don't make "real" blues records anymore - albums that sound like lost classics yet retain the freshness of an individual - play Many Shades of Blue for them.
Several tracks feature the guitar of John Cephas backing up Allegretto's unselfconscious harp classicism. Ivan Nevile & Janiva Magness guest on "Four Days Late," recorded at the Neville Family's New Orleans studio. “Good To Go” is so St. Louis it almost backs up into Chuck Berry’s coolerator, and Allegretto covers Berry’s “Back to Memphis” as if to drive home the point. Hank Williams “Mind Your Own Business” minus a boatload of twang is another surprise detour, and “Bad Man” proves that Allegretto’s got Chicago pinned down as well. Not to worry purists: You'll find plenty to love on the originals “Somerset”, “Hurry Down Rounder”, “Saddle My Pony” and “John's Kitchen Rag” all of which speak with the grace and clarity of classic Piedmont music. If a solo release is a way to stick close to home while demonstrating one's flexibility, Many Shades of Blue fits the template."
Blues Revue Magazine, June/July 2008
This superb album by the American singer and harmonica player is under consideration for a Grammy Award as Best Contemporary Blues Album. It is mostly self penned and several name players appear including Ivan Neville. The sound quality is brilliant, so warm it feels as if you’re in the room with the band playing. You can truly appreciate the amazing empathy of the musicians who have obviously played together many times. This highlights a very special musical gift that seems to have been overlooked by the critics.
Allegretto has a rare and distinctive quality as a bandleader. The same gift that Miles Davis was noted for; that of being able to conduct, lead, draw together a band with just a slight gesture musical or physical, it seems almost telepathic as, after a chorus or two of ensemble playing, the harmonica just draws all of the musicians back to the main theme. The solos are economical, and the instrumental interplay is faultless. The harmonica playing is exemplary and the drumming is impeccable with a lightness of touch and a perfect back beat. Every track is good but ‘Tattoo of Truth’ really stood out as the crowning jewel of a brilliant piece of work. Allegretto captures the feel and sound of John Lee Hooker’s early Chess tracks and marries it to a new song. Most styles of city and country blues are explored and the album gets better with every listen.
Blues Matters! Magazine (UK) March 2010
" A warm, diverse outing... impressive... Allegretto is not only a fine harp player but an all around good guy too... Many Shades of Blue is just what the label says, many shades and all done well."
Living Blues Magazine, December 2008
"...A MASTERPIECE... ALL KILLER NO FILLER... the "blues world" has produced only about 50 discs that made me wish I still had a radio show, & Many Shades of Blue is one."
John "Juke" Logan
"This is honest music crafted from inspiration, talent, and skills, delivered at a high level of accomplishment. I'm really impressed with the maturity, facility, and depth in Gary's harp playing. He could sure teach a lot of harp players about tone, phrasing, and getting the most expression out of a very expressive instrument. His songwriting, singing and arranging are very accomplished too. No wonder (Many Shades of Blue) is being well received... Gary's music made me feel good, and that's a very attractive quality."
"Steady Rollin'" Bob Margolin
Renowned Bluesman and Columnist
"To simply call Gary Allegretto a bluesman would be a disservice. Gary's a cleverly gifted songsmith with a wry sense of humor delivering every song with smooth vocals and a master's harp. Expressive phrasing, tone and attack ... this cat's got the goods!"
The Blues Hound
90.1 FM KPFT Houston
"Gary, you're a class act. You can really play both acoustic and electric. This record (Many Shades of Blue) is done with real taste... Vocals are good... the songwriting is quite good... a very enjoyable listen. Congratulations and thank you."
Founder and President, Alligator Records
"... Gary Allegretto shines bright on this soulful program of down-to-earth comfort... Allegretto sings with a natural storytelling appeal that’s easy to understand. His harmonica gives the program a zest that ensures magnetic forces. One listen and you’re under his spell. One listen and his audience is sold on pure blues with a message that comes from the heart."
Southland Blues Magazine, August 2008
CD LINER NOTES ~ MANY SHADES OF BLUE
When I was a kid I witnessed my first Blues performance in a hay field within walking distance of my home. Mesmerized, I watched Piedmont Bluesman John Jackson, who was on the road in hiatus from his regular job as a gravedigger in Virginia. When a powerful thunderstorm prematurely cleared the small crowd, John kept playing under the shelter of the stage. I found myself sitting at John’s feet; entranced by his guitar, banjo, and especially the stories he sang and told in his hypnotically lyrical voice. Though a Bluesman of the purist sense, John was not bound to what is often commonly accepted as a Blues repertoire. Of course he played Piedmont Blues - yet he also performed folk, country, Appalachian, and cowboy songs telling tales of adventure, joy and sorrow. Though I had only begun to play my grandfather’s harmonica, it was then that I instinctively knew my calling. I had no idea how, when, or where it would develop. I only knew that after hearing these “many shades of Blue”, my world would never be the same. It is my humble aspiration that this record simply honors that experience in diverse song, instrumentation and engaging storytelling.
Fittingly, my project began in full circle with a trip to the countryside of Virginia to record four songs with, the great Piedmont Bluesman John Cephas (a contemporary and close buddy of John Jackson). A true gentleman who I am proud to call my friend, John invited me to his home saying he would be honored to play on my project. Of course the honor was all mine. Further, the next time I visit he promised to take me fishing.
Back in Los Angeles I was further blessed by contributions from friends who are multiple award-winning Blues artists such as Janiva Magness, Doug Macleod, and Rich DelGrosso. Accomplished members of my stage shows including Tommy Kay, Paul Eckman, Ian Espinosa, Steve F’dor, and David Kida provide further wholehearted support as always. Renowned musicians David Jackson, Tom Corbett, Cliff Wagner and Mike Tempo also brought their fine talents. Engineer/producer Lenise Bent provided her tireless enthusiasm, support and expertise… often while dancing at the controls!
In the final recording session of my record it was an honor to be invited by Ivan Neville to record “Four Days Late” at the Neville family studio in New Orleans. I wrote the song in response to having worked directly with many brave child victims who desperately waited for help in the immediate aftermath of the Katrina tragedy. I feel that Ivan and Janiva’s heartfelt duet powerfully delivers my sentiment as another shade of blue in America’s beloved city.
Enough said… these are my stories in many shades of blue. Have a listen or two and I hope you enjoy it as much as we did making it.
~ Gary Allegretto
GARY ALLEGRETTO'S BIO ~
A down-to-earth guy with lifelong wanderlust and more than a few stories to tell, Gary Allegretto’s resume reads like a men's adventure wish-list: back-country forest ranger, forest firefighter on a "Hotshot" crew, LA city firefighter, bouncer in a couple rough honky-tonks and a Blues bar, cowboy and ranch hand, beach lifeguard, white-water rafting guide… and traveling Bluesman. He’s circled the globe giving music therapy with harmonicas to special needs kids. Through it all, Gary can barely remember a time when Blues weren't a powerful part of his life, and playing harmonica wasn't as natural as his own voice. He started playing upon receiving his first harp at age 5 from his woodsman grandfather. He first witnessed live Blues as a kid, when he saw the great Piedmont Bluesman John Jackson play acoustically on a farm within walking distance to his home. Soon after, while attending a cultural festival he carelessly wandered away from his family… and into an electric Big Walter Horton performance. As the loudspeakers blared something about a lost child, he knew he’d found his calling… and he followed.
Down the road, the self-taught harmonica virtuoso, singer, songwriter has performed on stages worldwide and his music has been featured on film and television. His songs can be found on the soundtrack of the national PBS television program "Roadtrip Nation". Gary was recently filmed and interviewed for the harmonica documentary film "Pocket Full Of Soul" (see www.pocketfullofsoulmovie.com) an honor he shares with "harmonica royalty". He has performed nationally & internationally either acoustically or with his all-star electric back-up band. His captivating performances never fail to catch the intrigue of his audiences, often including and prominent musicians and occasionally celebrities. He has received awards for his harmonica playing and is endorsed by Hohner, the world's top harmonica manufacturer.
Renowned for his versatile technique, Allegretto has taught harmonica in prestigious workshops including the Augusta Heritage Center Blues Week, Telluride Blues Camp, Riverfront Blues Festival, California Traditional Music Society's Folk Festival, & John Gindick's Harmonica Jam Camp, the Folk Alliance Conference and Stax Music Academy in Memphis. He is a Blues educator in the Blues Foundation's "Blues in The Schools" program, and was invited to teach students in Memphis area schools as part of the 2008 International Blues Challenge. In addition to his captivating performances, Allegretto offers concert promoters the unique option and opportunity to provide entertaining harmonica workshops at their venues. Gary's workshops include new harmonicas & lessons for folks of all ages and ability levels ~ a rare opportunity to learn from a professional.
Of special note, Gary is the founder and director of Harmonikids which is a 501(c)3 non profit charitable organization that provides music therapy with harmonicas and lessons to special needs children internationally. Allegretto has provided aid to special needs children from the Tsunami refugee camps of North Sumatra, Indonesia to the Katrina evacuee trailer villages of Louisiana and many points in between. Harmonikids has recieved widespread acclaim in the media including The Today Show, Blues Revue, and Living Blues Magazines. For more information about his unique charitable work visit www.harmonikids.org.
Allegretto recorded with 2005 Grammy Life-time Acheivement Award winner and Blues legend Pinetop Perkins on Rich Del Grosso's Blues Music Award nominated CD release. At the conclusion of the CD release gig Pinetop gave Gary the ultimate personal endorsement exclaiming that he "can really blow that harp!", and then as he left the stage he turned and deliberately pointed directly to Gary saying "You keep the business going." In Gary's words, "This was from an idol of mine, a legendary man who played with Muddy Waters, Jimmy Rogers, Little Walter, and many other ultimate legends of the Blues. My heart stopped and I just said...yes sir."