In one of my earlier reviews of recordings of Nørgård’s music, I remarked that his musical and stylistic progress is far from a straight line. This composer is used to surprising even his staunchest admirers with unexpected twists and turns. This is certainly valid when considering his string quartets - ten at the time of writing. It may be worth reminding ourselves that his first essays in the genre are available on Kontrapunkt 32015 played by the Kontra Quartet. It’s a disc still worth looking out for.
Recorded in Nashville and produced by Ellis and keyboardist Kevin McKendree, the ten brilliantly performed, fervently sung tracks on Winning Hand include nine originals, ranging from blistering blues to heart-pounding rock to soulful ballads. “Guitar, guitar, guitar is what this album is all about,” says Ellis, who recorded primarily with his 1959 Fender Stratocaster, his 1967 Gibson ES 345 and his 1973 Les Paul Deluxe. Guitar World says, “Ellis’ playing sparkles with depth and subtlety. Whether playing deep, slow blues or uptempo rockers, Ellis rides a gorgeously fat, pure tone.” Since his Alligator debut 30 years ago, Tinsley Ellis has become a bona fide worldwide guitar hero. The Chicago Sun-Times says, “It’s hard to overstate the raw power of his music.” Armed with his signature molten licks, melodic riffs and rousing, intense solos, Ellis, as his legions of fans will attest, is among the blues world’s best loved, hardest working and most well-travelled statesmen.