Blue Lunch, Cleveland-based band has followed up their Rip Cat debut album, Blue Lunch Special, with a sparkling new release titled Above the Fold. These eight musicians, making up the current and arguably best edition of the little big band that has delighted club-goers in the Midwest for over three decades, speak several blues dialects like gutbucket Chicago, T-Bone Walkers and West Coast jump-blues-with fluency and conviction.
But that’s just part of their modus operandi. These Ohioans play off and venture beyond blues conventions into top-grade Blue Note/Prestige-inspired jazz and classic New Orleans R&B and soul and even gospel. Mining the lodes of these traditions, Blue Lunch conjures a startlingly good hybrid sound of their very own.
Guitarist Bob Frank, who’s been a member since the mid-90s, and harmonica player Pete London, a founder of the band back in 1984, share the lead singing duties. They operate at impressive levels of self-confidence, staying away from the slick mannerisms that spoil the efforts of so many singers fronting horn bands these days. Frank shines as a guitarist, too… for starters, hear the powerful little story he tells in his solo in “Woman I Bleed,” and London is just as fine on blues harmonica. Frank’s also a perfectly good songwriter with seven substantive originals here. As a lyricist, he can flash a wit worthy of Nightcat Rick Estrin. London and saxophonist Chris Burge (who joined the band about three years ago) provides sturdy original songs to the album as well.
Saxman Chris Burge, trumpeter Mike Rubin and trombonist Bob Michael prove their soulfulness and musicality repeatedly as soloists and as section members. Also on Above The Fold is the enthusiasm of keyboardist Mike Sands, bassist Ray DeForest, and drummer Scott Flowers. Guests include singer Evelyn Wright, organ specialist Tim Longfellow and conga player Sammy DeLone.