Review: Dave Specter – Message In Blue

Posted on: Wednesday, Sep 17, 2014


Dave Specter – Message in Blue

(Delmark: DE 836)

Dave has, over time evolved a particular style and delivery that is all his own, a conglomeration of the tight, sparse, sophisticated and concise guitar playing disciplines found in jazz, to the joyous almost free falling emotive selfless feelings that are wonderfully displayed in what we in the U.K. call Northern Soul; all this is liberally fused with a deep and devoutly played foundation layer of Chicago blues. Born in Chicago’s North West side, in 1963, Specter began to learn to play the guitar at the age of 18. His teacher was Steve Freund who taught Dave in his spare time between his responsibilities at Jazz Record Mart, and Delmark Records.

Eventually, when Dave became suitably proficient Steve arranged for him to share the same stage as Sam Lay and Hubert Sumlin. Using contacts made while working at the B.L.U.E.S. nightclub Dave began to play alongside such artists as; Johnny Littlejohn, Son Seals, and the Legendary Blues Band. In 1989 Dave had formed his own band, The Bluebirds.

In the last twenty-odd years Dave has released nine crisply stunning, signature stinging guitar albums and shared the stage and studio with virtually all of the world’s elite blues artists, Now, with this album Dave has collaborated with the legendary Otis Clay, Bob Corritore; harmonica, Brother John Kattke; keyboards, Harlan Terson; bass and Marty Binder; drums.

The proceedings start with a drum roll and then Dave announces himself with a rich deep guitar groove on the instrumental “New Westside Stroll”, a relaxed jazz tinged guitar groover that has Dave stretching himself out with the surging, rolling Rhodes along for company. The highly emotive and very welcome, vocals of Otis Clay on Harold Burrage’s “Got To Find Away”, together with withering guitar and blasting horns rekindle all the heady, swirling memories of the secret soul gems of the seventies.

On Wilson Pickett’s (The Falcons) “I Found Love”, the delicately lyrical and restrained stinging guitar beautifully supports and aids Otis’s almost fragile and needy, pleading emotion filled vocals. Bobby ‘Blue’ Bland’s “This Time I’m Gone For Good”, is treated with great respect, the measured emotional pace of the building and burgeoning guitar passages match the desolation and heartfelt loss found in Otis’s beseeching and imploring vocals. “The Stinger”, mines the rich veins of laid back Latin music with smoothly sensual guitar play combined with an urging percussion that floats upon an undercurrent of bubbling organ work.

“Message In Blue”. Is a slow burning blues instrumental that has a relaxed burnt burring, smoky guitar feel that slowly but surely entwines and buries itself into your very own subconscious mind. This theme is further explored on the almost horizontal “Spectifyin’ Samba”, a fusion of slow languid swirls of guitar, horns and organ that are underpinned by a hypnotic percussive beat.

Well, whether you want to rip up the armchair or slide across the carpet this album has it all.



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