Blues Bytes

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: 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