As a child of the mid 50's I was drawn to the Rhythm and Blues music that was later to be called "Rock n Roll". I loved the sounds of Fats Domino, Little Richard, Ray Charles, Big Joe Turner, Roy Brown, Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson, Johnny Otis and numerous others. It has always been my dream to put together a band and play the Jump, Swing, R&B and Blues music that I learned to love as a child.
After many years of performing everything from Country to Pop to Beatles, I finally knew the right musicians to put together my dream band. I was fortunate to meet Jill Watkins, who fronted her own band, and had the talent, personality and showmanship, to step into the spotlight with this great group of musicians.
George Whitesell & His All Stars featuring Jill Watkins made their debut on June 5, 2006, my 60th birthday.
On July 11, 2007 we released our first CD "Skat" on Circle 504 Records. The CD contains 12 classic songs that we feature in our live stage show.
The CD was produced by one of the undeniable great piano players from Chicago, Ken Saydak.
Ken Saydak has enjoyed a thirty-year career as a musician, writer, vocalist, and producer. His work as a pianist and organist on over fifty albums is well known in the national and international blues scene. His 2005 release It's My Soul, on Evidence Records follows his two previous CDs on the Delmark label, Love Without Trust and his solo debut Foolish Man. A co-producer of the two Rounder Records CDs with his 1990's American roots band, Big Shoulders, Big Shoulders and Nickel History, he continued his growth as a producer on both of his own Delmark CDs as well as the label's critically embraced 2000 release, Learned My Lesson, for Chicago blues singer Zora Young.
Ken's career as a performer has taken him to concert and festival stages on four continents, including tours and appearances in Israel, South Africa, France, and Switzerland. The list of artists who have enlisted his talents include Johnny Winter, Otis Rush, Willie Kent, Lonnie Brooks, John Primer, Mighty Joe Young, Billy Boy Arnold, Sam Lay, Dave Specter, James Wheeler, Tad Robinson, Lurrie Bell, Johnny B. Moore, and Karen Carroll.
Joining us on our recording is legendary guitarist Bob Margolin.
Steady Rollin' Bob Margolin is a Blues guitar player and vocalist, carrying on the deep Chicago Blues style and creating his original music today. From 1973-1980, Bob played guitar in the band of Chicago Blues legend Muddy Waters, touring worldwide and recording, and learning to play Muddy's powerful music directly from him. In 1980, Bob started his own band, and he's still on the road and recording. He won the W.C. Handy award for guitar in 2005, and was nominated again in 2006.
It was our pleasure to have Bob sit in on three songs on "Skat".
With our first CD under our belts just one year and a month since our first performance, George Whitesell and His All Stars are well on their way to being one of the most in demand bands in Colorado.
Ken Saydak explains:
I first heard George Whitesell and His All-Stars on a live CD that George had recorded at one of the new group's gigs. I really liked what I heard, but I was even more impressed when I saw the band live a few weeks later. Here was a band playing that exciting music that had been the bridge between big band swing and what would later be called rock 'n roll. It's a deceptively simple sound, but it takes a high level of musicianship to pull it off. This band certainly has that musicianship. With a skin-tight rhythm section and a horn trio that I would stack up against any that I have ever heard (even in the studios of Chicago), bandleader, guitarist and vocalist George Whitesell knows how this sound is made. He understands that this is an ensemble sound where the whole is indeed greater than the sum of its parts. He has assembled a group that willingly checked their musical egos at the studio door and came in to work on a project that was everything that this music is intended to be: fun, fun and more fun. When you add singer Jill Watkins to the mix, what you get is a band that has breadth, style and class. George Whitesell and His All Stars is an entertainment juggernaut, and whether you listen to this, their first studio recording, or see their exciting stage show, I dare you to not smile.