As a writer of CD reviews a lot of
independent releases get sent my way. Some of them, to be perfectly honest, are
just plain awful for one reason or another. But every so often I receive one
that I feel the need to crow about. So crow indeed I will over Kimberly "KC"
Allison's Old, New, Borrowed And Blues (Starliner), a masterfully self-produced
album from a very versatile guitarist who should be ranked right up there with
the likes of Coleman, Davis and Foley. Now that's not to sound sexist, but the
fact of the matter is that unfortunately our society still discriminates when it
comes to male and female musicians (especially guitar players) . This lady is as
good, if not better than, some of her male counterparts. Originally from the
Kansas City area, Kimberly graduated with a degree in jazz guitar from USC and
now makes Southern California her home. Ms. Allison's style is one that can best
be called eclectic, blending the grittiness of Albert Collins, the stinging
sweetness of B.B. King and the melodic jazziness of Kenny Burrell or Joe Pass.
The ten tunes are evenly divided between covers and originals at five apiece,
with an original jazzy shuffle "Grill You Own" starting things off that quickly
establishes her own unique signature. Providing vocals and keyboards to the slow
blues of "Open House At My House" and Jimmy McCracklin's "Got To Know" is a
forty year veteran of the Los Angeles blues scene, "Mister Blues" Leshun, who
also adds his remarkable talents to the strolling bop of "Next Time You See Me."
The covers chosen for this superlative album are quite good, but it's Kimberly's
originals that allow her to stretch out and strut her stuff as both player and
composer equally. "Turn Up The AC" features a stuttering funky soul beat
anchored by the horn section of Phil Norris on trumpet and Jennifer Hall on sax,
with Allison laying down some piercing licks. A smoldering piece of blues
entitled "Four Down Jump" features some savory harp licks from James Murphy,
while "Portland Boogie" recalls a bit of the swing era with its upscale bouncy
arrangements. The closer, "I35 South," wraps thing up nicely with a Texas style
Stevie Ray-ish grind to it that finds Kimberly just plain wailing and picking to
beat the band. Speaking of the band, Ron Battle is on electric bass, Geryy
Easely sits in on upright for three numbers and Mike Lopez handles the drums.
Old New Borrowed And Blues is a well-executed and brilliantly-paced album that
leaves you wanting more. If you can't find this splendid recording in your local
record store, it can be ordered directly from Ms. Allison's website:
http://www.kimberlyallison.com/. It would be surprising if one of the major
labels didn't scoop this lady up soon because she is so very fine to listen to.
Take a chance and treat yourself to this one soon.
--- Steve Hinrichsen