Review: Tommy Schneller – Cream Of The Crop

Posted on: Wednesday, Jun 4, 2014


Tommy Schneller – Cream Of The Crop

(Cable Car Records: CCR 0311-43)

Here’s a nice 10-track of funky and soulful blues courtesy of German saxophone player and vocalist, Tommy Schneller . . . with the mastermind behind “Cream Of The Crop” being the prolific Henrik Freischlader, who not only wrote the music for all songs, but also produced the album and contributes his ever tasteful guitar, as well as bass, drums and backing vocals.

The album was recorded in Arnsberg, with another link to Freischlader being his long-time associate Martin Meinschafer, who recorded, mixed and mastered the tracks. Apart from Schneller on saxophone and vocals, and the afore-mentioned Freischlader, the rest of a very tight unit comprises: Gregory Barrett (Hammond organ and keyboards), Dieter Kuhlmann (trombone) and Gary Winters (trumpet).

Proceedings start with the bluesy groove of “Hands In The Air”, which features plenty of Henrik Freischlader’s guitar work and Tommy Schneller’s very decent voice and fine saxophone; which combined with the other three musicians is very pleasant on the ear. The more up-tempo funky “She’s So Good To Me” follows, with the horns to the fore, with excellent Schneller solo – the whole track having a ‘Crescent City’ feel, aka the great Dr. John.

The title cut, “Cream Of The Crop” has a nice jazzy swing, with Freischlader laying down flurries of notes, but never swamping the tune and leaving plenty of space for the rest of the musicians, with the horns again featured strongly. The funk returns for the storming “Ain’t No Maybe”, with really fine Hammond from Gregory Barrett on the track. “You’re Somebody Else” takes the pace down again, and is another expressive slow blues and is a standout here.

“What Did I Do” rides on a joint guitar/brass groove and again all present excel – with “Higher & Higher being on similar ground with a stomping, soulful feel.

Definitely one to check out for blues fans who like their music nice and soulful and funky and highly recommended!


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