Various shades of blues were sung and swung at the Bayou last night. First the Incredible Snakes, a much-improved quintet, drew on the Chicago style with its emphasis on searing harmonica solos and taut rhythms. Adding a sax and trombone to the mix, the band then celebrated the blues in the great tradition of Southwest jump bands. During these numbers the band projected a joyously infectious sound with hardly a trace of effort. Trombone smears and growls, jive harmonies and plenty of rhythmic bounce added to the fun.
Roomful of Blues also sounded richer and more supple than on previous visits. The octet covered much of the same territory as the Snakes, but its five-piece horn section, a veritable wall of brass, produced a more expansive music. "Let's Have a Party" quickly illustrated the value of the horns, contrasting low-flying honks with a rainbow of colors.
Other highlights were veteran trombonist Porky Cohen's idiosyncratic choruses and the way in which guitarist Ronnie Earl unfurled his lean, T-Bone Walker-inspired solos. As in the past, Roomful of Blues occasionally showed a weakness for rather flimsy material, but its collective swagger and might salvaged nearly every one of those tunes.