Roomful of Blues has never sounded as confident, comfortable or convincing as it does wailing behind Kansas City blues shouter Big Joe Turner on their new album "Blues Train." Turner has helped the nine- piece band achieve its finest recording since guitarist Duke Robillard left the group several years ago.
Turner's in majestic form: a voice as big as a barn yet mobile enough to keep pace with the juggernaut charts RoB plays so well. Turner may have sung in more illustrious company, but the instrumental touches that color and sometimes propel these arrangements attest to how well RoB has absorbed the Kansas City edition.
Particularly expressive are tenor saxophonist Greg Piccolo, trombonist Porky Cohen and guitarist Ronnie Earl Horvath. Each has a distinctive tone -- an absolute necessity if you're going to make your presence known in Turner's company. And even without Turner, the ensemble's two instrumentals -- "Jumpin' For Joe" and "Last Night" -- pack a staggering punch. A brief appearance by Dr. John on Turner's favorite, "I Want a Little Girl," provides yet another reason to chime in anytime the blues shouter lets loose with his favorite exclamation: All Rightie! ON RECORD, ON STAGE THE ALBUM BIG JOE TURNER & ROOMFUL OF BLUES -- Blues Train (Muse Records MR 4293). THE SHOW ROOMFUL OF BLUES, Saturday at 9 at the Wax Museum.