Reprinted from yesterday's late editions.
Don't hold "Roomful of Blues" strictly to its name. This Rhode Island-based septet is deeply rooted in some classic American texts, written by such masters as Chuck Willis, Louis Jordan, Count Basie, Joe Turner, T-Bone Walker and others.
The end result is a room full of joy at the Childe Harold, where the band will hold forth through Saturday night.
"Roomful of Blues" makes a good cause for the territory band, both geographically and stylistically. It has been in existence and touring the Northeast for the better part of a decade, but only recently acquired a record contract with a major label (Island).
The music, guided by guitarist-singer Duke Robillard and propelled by an outstanding three-man saxophone section and Al Copley's frenetic piano playing, insists on jumping off the stand in a manner that hasn't been heard since pre-bop Kansas City, and the golden jazz age in the Southwest.
There is a blues presence to much of the music, but only as the term is most widely applied. Big Joe Turner's "Honey Hush," which anticipates rock 'n' roll, is generically close to Big Walter Price's "My Tears," which features a - gasp - meaningful behind-the-back guitar solo. There's even room for a frenzied reading of the Link Wray's "Rawhide"; blues it's not, but it works.
In each highly charged set, one is likely to hear music going through golden transitions - post-war blues evolving into rhythm and blues, swing before the sweetening, hot jazz before the fire was internationalized by the birth of the cool. "Roomful of Blues" is dynamically reliving its roots, all history should be so vibrant.