Lex and Joe have been playing music up and down the East Coast for over twenty years.
A shared interest in the fabled swing era of the 1930's and 40's as well as more contemporary Rhythm and Blues, has resulted in this enduring and productive collaboration. Even though swing's their thing, Lex and Joe's play list encompasses Jelly Roll Morton, Duke Ellington, Fats Waller, and songs from Van Morrison, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Tom Waits, and Leon Redbone. Solidly based in the blues, Lex and Joe combine strong rhythm playing with diverse instrumental timbres.
Lex Romane plays guitar, fusing the intense rhythmic drive of masters like Freddie Green with modern R&B feeling. In his distinctive vocals, Lex shows the influence of such varied artists as Muddy Waters,Van Morrison, and Leon Redbone.
Joe Riillo, a classically trained clarinetist, quickly discovered the enticements of R&B and Jazz. Switching to the saxophone, he developed a singular style influenced by artists ranging from King Curtis and Johnny Almond to Cannonball Adderly and Lester Young. On the clarinet, he offers tribute to Pete Fountain, Jimmy Hamilton, and Eddie Daniels. Joe also plays flute.
After releasing three well-received studio recordings Lex and Joe started getting requests to release a CD reflecting what they do best: a live duo performance. The opportunity presented itself to record in a concert setting in a special venue in Lex’s hometown of Wilkes-Barre, PA. It turned out to be a magical evening with many old friends in the audience. The recording, which was recorded direct to Digital Audio Tape with no overdubbing, limiting, compression, or equalization, captures the magic of the evening perfectly, giving the listener a “you are there” experience.
Recorded live in front of a lucky audience this past March the 14 tracks offer up a loving example of talent outweighing production value. No EQ, no compression, no overdubs and other such hooey. All we get are songs played well by master musicians... Standout numbers are the fourth, "I like my Blues with a Rhythm", which was penned by Mr. Riillo and the ninth, "Saint James Infirmary," but there really isn't a weak track on the record. (Charley Lawrence/Seacoast NH online)
When they recorded "Live at the Chicory House" the crowd was the kind performers dream of. As Romane and Riillo played the audience listened. When they finished, it broke into applause, peppered with hoots, and whistles. The performers were familiar to the audience, just not regulars. The Chicory House is in Wilkes-Barre, Romane’s hometown in Pennsylvania mining country, where it all started. The performance was one of their joint career highlights, right up there with playing the Roxy in Boston, and opening for BB King. (Jeanne McCartin/Portsmouth Herald)
"Live at the Chiclory House" includes a wide range of jazz and blues selections; from Hoagy Carmichael's "Old Rockin' Chair" to Lazy Lester's "Sugar Coated Love." Lex and Joe cover some of the most well-known classics--and some more obscure treasures from the jazz, blues and swing eras of American popular music. The CD also includes originals by both Romane and Riillo. A guitar and flute arrangement of "Misty Roses", a song by 1960's folk scene songwriter Tim Hardin is a special treat... Reaching back and taking the old to the present--this recording is reflective of the best in American music of the last few generations.
(Dale Robin Lockman/ York County Coast Star)
As you might have guessed, guitarist and singer Lex Romane and saxophonist Joe Riillo’s latest release, Live at the Chicory House, documents the veteran swing and blues duo’s grade-A live show. The album, recorded earlier this year at a nightclub in Lex’s hometown of Wilkes-Barre, Penn., does well capturing the pair’s affable and easy repartee, which they’ve honed during their 27-year musical affiliation (they go, officially, by the friendly shorthand Lex & Joe). The 14-song set, mostly arrangements of well-known and well-loved tunes, reveals Romane and Riillo’s enviable repertoire. Their wide-ranging interests and influences stretch across idioms and eras, from classic jazz (Jack Teagarden’s “St. James Infirmary”) to classic rock (The Grateful Dead’s “Lazy River Road”), to classic blues (Willie Dixon’s “Little Red Rooster”) and beyond. For good measure each contributes a song of his own—Joe’s swinging “I Like My Blues With Rhythm” and Lex’s folksy ballad “The Mark of Alec Campbell.” (Chris Grieiner/ The Wire Magazine)