Soulful singer and guitarist Tab Benoit has never made secret his devout allegiance to the Louisiana music tradition. With The Sea Saint Sessions, Benoit, ably assisted by several Crescent City stalwarts, takes his music back to the source, setting up shop at the famed hit factory to cook up a sonic gumbo that successfully recaptures the spontaneity of the classic Sea Saint sound. Benoit's guests conjure up some of the studio's old musical magic as "Big Chief" Monk Boudreaux infuses Mardi Gras Indian spirit into "Monk's Blues," Meter man George Porter Jr. funkifies "Making the Bend," and Cyrille Neville sings on his own "Plareen Man". But it is Benoit's distinctive guitar lines–somehow both supple and hard-edged–and the impeccable elasticity of his regular rhythm section that makes the music work. Most of the material is Benoit's own, although he pays tribute to Louisiana legend Guitar Slim with a take on the classic "Sufferin' Mind" and dips into the Howlin' Wolf songbook for a rendition of "Howlin' for My Darling".
Tab Benoit's funky, ragged blend of Louisiana swamp blues and East Texas guitar, with hints of funk, soul, and country thrown in to give the gumbo just the right spice, has served him well since he burst on the scene in the early '90s. Since Benoit hasn't essentially changed his sound since, this collection of sides made up largely from his early releases for Houston-based Justice Records (all of Benoit's Justice albums have been reissued by Vanguard Records in recent years) makes an ideal introduction to what this guy is all about, and although Best of the Bayou Blues covers a five-year span from 1992 to 1997, the tracks all fall together in a completely coherent sequence. Opening with the Benoit original "Voodoo on the Bayou" from 1992's Nice & Warm and running through several originals and some interesting covers (including country-funk takes on Hank Williams' "Jambalaya" and Willie Nelson's "Rainy Day Blues"), this set spotlights Benoit's southern Louisiana take on contemporary blues.
Olivier Benoit brings his EUROPA project to a close by setting a northerly course with his musicians that takes them to the capital of Norway. Oslo is an atypical city. Nestling in the heart of triumphant natural surroundings, it has constantly pursued its architectural and cultural transformation, somewhere in between ancient tradition and the incredibly modern. At the close of the last century, this city was already setting the tone for new artistic concepts. To accompany the capital of Norway in music and establish a subjective portrait of the city, first an immersion was necessary. Living to the rhythm of Oslo’s seasons constituted a vital source of inspiration that provided the composition with its starting point.
Co-founder of Fada and The Khu, bassist Benoît Lugué set up his first personal sextet in 2015: Cycles. He is surrounded by Denis Guivarc'h on alto saxophone, Olivier Laisney on trumpet, Johan Blanc on trombone and synthesizer, Matthis Pascaud on guitar and Martin Wangermée on drums.