Review: Kirk Fletcher – My Turn
Posted on: Tuesday, May 4, 2010
(Eclecto Groove Records: EGRCD511)
The term ‘all killer, no filler’ often gets used on some releases, safe to say here is another one of them, and is totally justified – an early contender surely for album of the year – ok, I know the year has a long way to go yet! The great LA-raised guitarist, Kirk Fletcher, has released “My Turn” – the long awaited follow up to “Shades Of Blue”, which was on Eclecto Groove’s parent label, Delta Groove.
Having followed Fletcher since he debuted in 1999 on JSP Records, with his “I’m Here & I’m Gone” release, and then known as Kirk ‘Eli Fletcher, it’s safe to say over the years he has blossomed to become one of the blues most in-demand players, with long stints in The Fabulous Thunderbirds and Charlie Musselwhite’s band, and currently is a member of both The Hollywood Blues Flames and The Mannish Boys.
The ten gems here are full of tasteful big toned guitar grooves, with the album produced by West Coast guitar legend Michael Landau, and such talent as Travis Carlton and Bobby Tsukamoto on bass, Paul Cerra (saxophone and vocals), Gary Novak, James Gadson and Tom Fillman (drums), and the keyboards handled by Iver Olav Erstad and Luke Miller . . . among a stellar cast here.
The opening “El Medio Stomp” is a driving instrumental full of terrific guitar leads and strong rhythm work and and as Fletcher acknowledges a nod to the Stevie Ray Vaughan tunes he listened to as a kid. He takes a rare vocal on a slowed-down cover of Jimmy Reed’s “Found Love”, but full of more guitar dynamics. Fletcher and band pay tribute to the song’s writer, Jesse Ed Davis on the jazzy “Natural Anthem”, with wicked slide solo here from Dave Melton.
Paulie Cerra handles the vocal on the swinging “Ain’t No Way, a superb jazzy shuffle, with incise soloing from Kirk Fletcher, underpinned by Iver Olav Eerstad’s organ playing. The title track, “My Turn”, is penned by Travis Carlton, Paulie Cerra and Luke Miller – a soulful, jazzy instrumental – described in the cd booklet as being like “if Jimi Hendrix had played on a 70s Tom Scott LA Express record”, with one of the best solos of the whole album from Fletcher.
The standard “Congo Square” begins with an opening guitar salvo, before another smooth performance from Cerra, Fletcher’s leads here having a Latin feel, indeed, as does the whole tune. The lengthy version of The Crusaders “Way Back Home”, written by Wilton Felder, is given added authenticity by the fact that Travis Carlton’s dad, guitar great Larry, was on the original recording – sublime saxophone solo here from Paulie Cerra.
The self-explanatory “Blues For Antone” sees Kirk Fletcher digging deep into the Texas blues grooves as a tribute to the late Clifford Antone – the highly respected Austin musician, club owner and record label boss, with just over four minutes of quite blistering guitar playing. Fletcher takes his second vocal on a cracking version of Sly Stone’s “Let Me Have It All” – as funky as they come, his wah-wah pedal doing overtime, and Cerra’s saxophone augmented by the trumpet of Paul Litteral, and the drums of another legend in the shape of drummer James Gadson, who played with Bill Withers and Marvin Gaye.
The closing epic “Continents End” sort of takes classic Hendrix and gives it a modern feel – lots of shimmering guitar on this mainly instrumental number, with wailing solos, and a spoken word part courtesy of Karen Landau – a tumultuous end to a quite brilliant album. As with all Delta Groove and Eclecto Groove releases it is a beautiful sounding album, and another gem from their top roster of artistes – with label boss Randy Chortkoff on board as executive producer.