Raphael Wressnig was 28 at the time of this recording but is already considered one of Europe's top jazz organists. On this CD, Wressnig plays the usual assortment of blues and soul-jazz grooves but also stretches his instrument by playing some music that borders on the avant-garde, some funk, a second-line New Orleans parade rhythm groove, a soulful country ballad, and even hints of hip-hop. Two songs are performed solely by Wressnig's Organic Trio, a unit that had been together for six years by 2008, featuring the fine guitarist Georg Jantscher and drummer Lukas Knofler. Three numbers add either tenor saxophonist Craig Handy or Christian Bachner, two others have the team of trumpeter Eric Bloom and tenorman Sax Gordon, and the remaining two find percussionist Luis Ribeiro making the group a quartet.
BBR delves deeper into the vaults of Salsoul Records to bring you AURRA – A LITTLE LOVE! AURRA began as a spinoff from the R&B Funk group Slave in 1980 and featured members Curt Jones, Staleana Young, Charles Carter and Budd Hankerson. AURRA recorded three albums for Salsoul during the 80s and tasted chart success with their first offering, Send Your Love when "Are You Single” reached #16 on the R&B charts.
Come a Little Closer is a surprisingly effective mating of a distinctive singer with seemingly incongruous material and production. Helmed by Gabriel Mekler, who'd produced Steppenwolf and Three Dog Night, the record features Etta James supported by a slew of hotshot L.A. session men (including Little Feat's Lowell George). The song selection ranges from "St. Louis Blues" to Randy Newman's perverse "Let's Burn Down the Cornfield" to the dramatic, melismatic "Feeling Uneasy," in which the junk-hungry James improvised wordlessly over an otherwise blues progression. Here's more evidence that Etta is one of the most versatile vocalists of her era.
At 18 tracks, this is a lot of Aldo Nova, especially since Nova is pretty much the province of early-'80s hard rock fetishists. Still, there's a reason why Nova has fans, and it's because his music was trippier and stranger than that of his peers, whether it was Billy Squier or Accept. As such, it has dated a little bit, but in a good way, since this has more character than a lot of early-'80s arena metal. That doesn't mean that this will satisfy listeners just looking for "Fantasy," but for those who like to dig a little deeper into this era, this is definitely worth a spin.