Review: Eric Ranzoni – The Blues Of Eric Ranzoni

Posted on: Friday, Jun 10, 2011

“The Blues Of Eric Ranzoni”

Here’s an enjoyable release of piano blues from London-based, Italian-raised Eric Ranzoni – who was born in London, but spent most of his life in Milan and Rome, before relocating to these shores and the capital in 2003 . . . and he has been much in demand, backing the likes of Mud Morganfield, Big Joe Louis, Otis Grand and ex-Inmates vocalist, Bill Hurley. I was lucky to catch him backing Mud Morganfield and he was on top form that night.

His first solo release is a collection of all covers, bar one, and sees his sparkling piano playing featured solo, in a trio and also band format . . . all recorded live in the studio, with absolutely no overdubs at all! His vocals are heavily accented but perhaps that adds to the charm of this release . . . let’s be honest an Anglo-Italian bluesman is not going to sing like Howlin’ Wolf or Muddy Waters.

The full band are featured on three tracks, with the musicians being Phil Capone (guitar), Dave Swift (bass) and George Hart (drums), and they feature on the opening “Mother Earth”, the Memphis Slim classic; the rollicking Otis Spann boogie “Keep Your Hands Out Of My Pocket”, which fairly rattles along; and the evergreen “The Thrill Is Gone”, featuring some muscular guitar from Phil Capone, and the driving rhythm section of Swift and Hart.

The trio section of the album are on five cuts, and apart from Ranzoni, they feature ex-Yardbird Laurie Garman on harmonica and Davide Sanna (guitar). Otis Rush’s signature tune “All Your Love” is given a piano-led makeover, with sympathetic harmonica from Garman and fine solo from Sanna. Other highlights in the trio tracks are a wonderful “T’Ain’t Nobody’s Business”, which must be one of the blues most covered songs, and a Little Walter tune, “Everything’s Gonna Be Alright”, where Garman and Ranzoni both shine.

The solo original writing credit here is the self-explanatory ‘doff of the cap’ to two heroes in “Boogie For Spann and Slim”, where in his own company Eric Ranzoni really lets rip with some storming piano; elsewhere on his solo tracks he performs a stellar “Little Red Rooster” and Charles Brown’s “Black Night”, with a return to some Memphis Slim on “Lonesome Traveller” . . . all beautifully played, with a real passion for the music.

Full albums of piano blues can be an acquired taste, but this is well worthy of checking out, and it’s easy to see why Eric Ranzoni is an in-demand player . . . a most engaging debut and definitely recommended!


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