Review: Gaetano Letizia & The Underworld Blues Band – Voodoo Doll And Other Blues Lessons

Posted on: Sunday, Aug 10, 2014


Gaetano Letizia & The Underworld Blues Band – Voodoo Doll And Other Blues Lessons

(Tom Letizia Records)

Gaetano ‘Tom’ Letizia lives in Aurora, Cleveland Ohio, he started playing the guitar professionally at the age of 15 and for the last 40 years or so he has continued to do so; basing his style on the precision and clarity of B. B. King and such rock guitarists as Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix.

After he graduated from Kent State University in 1973, he continued his playing career and also spent a good number of years studying the guitar firstly, at The Baldwin Wallace Conservatory of Music, he continued under Bert Henry learning the Schillinger System of Composition; he then went on to classical studies under the tutelage of Dr. Loris Chobanian and Jazz guitar under John Stebal; he has also spent time furthering his jazz capabilities with the renowned guitarists George Benson and Pat Martino.

He is currently studying with Richie Hart of Berklee College of Music and is also a Certified Berklee College of Music PULSE system teacher. Gaetano also, plays solo jazz & blues guitar, while maintaining Gaetano’s Underworld Blues Band and finally, Gaetano’s Jazz Trio.

Joining him here in his Underworld Blues Band are; Larry Keller; bass, Steve Renko; drums, Jake Tijerina; keyboards. Throughout the 12 numbers they create a dense and thick undergrowth of surging, swirling keyboard moods tightened down with a rhythmically smooth, dominating broad chunky bass line. The ever changing and firmly underpinning pace is determined by the demonically unstoppable drum work that has you laconically grooving one minute and wildly jerking the next; all the while Gaetano effortlessly plays over the top, whether it is the cool grooving ringing layers of funk as found on “Sold My Soul”, it has to be said that the George Benson inspired guitar work is sublime and gossamer light, or to the blues club shuffling feel of “Hurt Myself”, the crisp, clear Chicago inspired guitar tramping picking echoes through the insistent organ surges, all the while the solid drumwork keeps immaculate time.

“Big Foot”, is a masterclass in the mixing of almost free form jazz with jazz rock, a deep roaming compulsive bass takes you by the ears and drops you onto a driving and pulsing organ, while over the top of you magical guitarwork weaves, winds in and out and finally entwines your senses until it stops and drops you back to earth. The jazz rock influenced, hard driving “Kill My Conscience”, contains searing and stinging drum work that is equalled by a relentless powering organ and flying in from nowhere is a devastating slide solo that simply screams for attention.

Gaetano is one of the few artists today formulating his own particular mixture of blues, jazz, soul, funk and rock and very pleasing it is too!




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