Tuesday, April 13, 2010

CD Review: Jason King Band

Blues Skies and Black Shoes
Jason King Band
(Hip-Rox Music, 2009)
by Steve "Fly" Klein

Northern Nevada is Reno and Sparks, casinos and open spaces. It's not the home of the blues. But amid all of this Western grandeur is Jason King Roxas and his fellow musicians, the Jason King Band.

Born in the Philippines in 1973 of Japanese and Castilian ancestry, Jason King Roxas (vocals and guitar) immigrated to Los Angeles in 1980 and began playing guitar in the church choir during high school. His band consists of Wilbert Banks (bass), Michael Patrick Moore (drums), and Tommy Stiles (guitar, lap slide, and pedal steel) with guest appearances by Pat Dotson (drums), Jason Stanton (keyboards), Freddie Mills (harmonica), and Rick Metz (saxes).

The first thing I noticed was the well-crafted sound of Blues Skies and Black Shoes. Great performances that were really well recorded, not something you will always find in this era of the everyman's home studio. Hands off to Todd Rold at Watersign Studios in Reno for his recording, engineering, and mixing, as well as Jason King Roxas and Todd for their work as producers.

A highlight of the CD for me was "Cryin' Shame". It is a nice, slow blues that Jason Stanton drops some tasty piano behind. Mr. Roxas noodles through some classic riffs and sizzles with his solos.

I found "Broken" and "6 Years Gone" to be excellent acoustic blues numbers with yearning guitar work that will break your heart. While "Driftin'" and "SoulShaker" try to rip the doors off with vocals and guitar playing that Stevie Ray would be proud to hear. Jason is in total control of his voice and his other instrument, his Strat.

This CD is very good with some moments of greatness. All eleven tracks are original compositions and seem to show a good range in style and ability. Jason's guitar playing is both masterful and emotional, and the band lays down a solid groove and contributes textures and key solos that push this CD beyond the typical first album for a band.