CD review: Big Jay McNeely – I’m Still Here – Big Jay Sings The Blues 2019: Video, CD covers

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Big Jay McNeely – I’m Still Here – Big Jay Sings The Blues

The late legendary R&B-jump blues sax player Big Jay McNeely recorded this album just before his passing. He was known in the forties and fifties for his energetic “honking” style of sax playing and exuberant stage antics. This was recorded when he was ninety one. Age took a toll on his voice and he was never really known as a singer. His vocal delivery is more in line with talking, but to have the where-with-all to record at his age is an accomplishment. His sax skills are well on display none-the-less. The musical accompaniment sounds like session players trying to sound authentic as possible. No musician credits are given. Not great credits, but it seems like all original songs save one.

“You Never Miss The Water(Till The Well Runs Dry)” displays the tattered half spoken vocals. Near the songs’ end it’s kind of a dueling “baby” and mumble fest. The music comes off almost like Hollywood’s version of the blues. the band upholds the groove on “Baby Please Don’t Go”. His voice is more ragged on the title track. It probably would of fared better if he just went full out Captain Beefheart squawk.

Acoustic slide and his requisite sax lighten up “Please Don’t Turn Me Away”. A nice guitar tone on “I’m Gonna Make It Alright”. There is a weird out of place piano part low in the mix.

What’s a blues record without the requisite reflection of life song? We get “Way Back In The Old Days” backed by a good groove by the band. A close variation of the “Spoonful” riff appears in “Still Got A Long Way To Go(Going Back To L.A.)”. It features some nice electric slide guitar.

This will appeal mostly to followers and collectors’ of Big Jay’s material throughout his career.

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