by Val Vaccaro (Photos by Bazpix)
Brian Auger, Jeff Golub, Steve Williams, Conrad Korsch & Julian Valencia @Lucille's Bar and Grill in B.B. King Blues Club, NYC (photos by Bazpix)
"Bold," "audacious," and "resilient" are all fitting terms to describe Jeff Golub's physical stance on the cover of his new CD "Train Keeps A Rolling" (Entertainment One Music) - holding his guitar in one hand and his seeing eye dog with the other hand on train tracks - considering that two years ago he lost his eyesight, and last year he remarkably survived a harrowing subway train accident with only a few minor injuries. Those words of courage - of defying the odds - also suitably portray the great, upbeat music which stays true to Jeff Golub's signature sounds from past CDs with some exciting, new musical twists.
"Train Keeps A Rolling" is a superb new CD by guitarist Jeff Golub (his fourteenth album) with Brian Auger on B3 Hammond organ and keyboards of upbeat soul-jazz instrumental music and vocal tunes filled with funky grooves, exuberant blues, and Latin and R&B influences. The new CD is co-produced by Jeff Golub and Bud Harner (Harner is a Grammy-nominated producer who has co-produced many of Golub's past CDs). If you are a fan of Jeff Golub's music, "Train Keeps A Rolling" is a must-have CD to add to your collection. If you have not heard Jeff Golub's music before as a contemporary jazz and blues artist - it should be a real treat.
Guitarist Jeff Golub's musical prowess and versatility stem in part from being influenced by jazz (e.g. Wes Montgomery, George Benson), rock (e.g. Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, and Jimi Hendrix), and blues (e.g. B.B. King, Albert King, Freddie King, Buddy Guy, and Muddy Waters). Born in Copley, Ohio (near Akron), Jeff Golub attended Berklee College of Music in Boston to hone his craft, and then moved to New York City in 1980. Before starting his solo career as a contemporary jazz artist, guitarist Jeff Golub toured with Rod Stewart from 1988-1996, played on a number of Rod Stewart's CDs, and appeared on Rod Stewart's live DVD "One Night Only" live at Royal Albert Hall. Jeff Golub also played with rock and pop artists such as Billy Squier, John Waite, Peter Wolf (J. Geils Band), Vanessa Williams, Tina Turner, and Ashford and Simpson. Jeff Golub has recorded on over 100 albums of other artists, has toured as part of the popular "Guitars & Saxes" ensemble, and worked with top contemporary jazz musicians including Rick Braun, Kirk Whalum, Bob James, Peter White, Dave Koz, Brian Culbertson, Gerald Albright, Mindy Abair, Richard Elliot, Warren Hill, Gato Barbieri, Phillipe Saisse, The Sax Pack, Steve Cole, Jason Miles, Everette Harp, Mark Antoine and others.
At the August 24, 2013 show at Lucille's Bar & Grill in B.B. King Blues Club in NYC, there were two sets featuring a number of songs from the new CD "Train Keeps A Rolling." The entertaining and inspirational show featured renowned contemporary jazz guitarist Jeff Golub and legendary keyboardist/Hammond B3 organ player Brian Auger with a terrific rhythm section consisting of fantastic drummer Steve Williams and great bass player Conrad Korsch on electric bass. Brooklyn, New York-based drummer Steve Williams has played with Sade, Jeff Golub, Will Downing, Steve Cole, Jeff Kashiwa, The Sax Pack, Mark Antoine, Matt Marshak, David Byrne, Ivan Neville, Keith Richards, Mica Paris, Mark Ballas (Dancing with the Stars), and others. NYC bassist and singer-songwriter Conrad Korsch has worked with Rod Stewart, Carly Simon, Andrea Bocelli, Bette Midler, Jennifer Hudson, Taylor Swift, Natalie Cole, Carole King, Deborah Gibson, Madeleine Peyroux, Rosanne Cash, Marc Cohn, Gavin DeGraw, Manhattan Transfer, Christopher Cross and others.
Guitarist Jeff Golub credits the classic, seminal 1973 album "Closer to It" by Brian Auger's Oblivion Express with inspiring his own career to play jazz with rock influences, so having Golub and Auger record together and also go on tour with each other forty years later in 2013 is a wonderful tribute and gift to both of these super-talented musicians from different generations (there is a sixteen year age difference with Golub at age 58 and Auger a hearty 74 years young).
On August 24th in NYC at the beginning of the show, Brian Auger fervently offered a perfectly fitting, heartfelt introduction for Jeff Golub: "Put your hands together... Here's a guy who lost his sight and has the guts to come out here - not only to record a really great album - but to come out and play for you... let's hear it (for Jeff Golub)." Brian Auger's remarkable introduction sparked cheers and enthusiastic clapping from the audience to welcome Jeff Golub.
Brian Auger's memorable quote is also shown as part of a new short documentary video pitch: "Jeff Golub: Train Keeps A Rolling" by cinematographer Kyle Kelley of BullMoose Pictures which was submitted in August to the 2013 AbelCine Documentary Grant competition. Fans and well-wishers were asked to help the video win the competition by 'liking' it on vimeo.com by September 24th https://vimeo.com/73179502. (See separate article about the documentary.) Kyle Kelley was at Lucille's Bar & Grill in B.B. King Blues Club in NYC on August 24th to record video of the show.
Due to his loss of eyesight, Jeff Golub was led by his personal assistant to sit in a chair on stage. For much of the show, Golub sat with a relatively subdued demeanor - still adjusting to being blind - he channeled his energy and focus on playing the music which was enjoyable with catchy riffs and buoyant melodies. Golub stood up briefly to do a solo on his signature tune "Naked City."
Often, audiences who watch traditional jazz performances may be accustomed to the norm of seeing musicians focus intensely on the music and remain relatively stationary on stage, but smooth jazz fans are typically used to more dynamic performances. In the past, fans of Jeff Golub have been delighted by great music, along with his vivacious personality and animated performances (e.g. jumping up and down while playing guitar) which probably stem in part from his experience touring in the 1980s and 90s with pop and rock artists such as Rod Stewart and Billy Squier.
It may take a while for Jeff Golub's fans to adjust and learn to appreciate a different type of performance - but the music is still wonderful. If Rod Stewart fans can evolve with him from pop-rock singer known for wild onstage antics to Great American Songbook crooner- then Jeff Golub fans should be able to move forward with him on his journey too. Despite the poignant situation, Jeff Golub's music that night with the band was great and it was a blessing to be there at the entertaining show (as someone who has had the privilege to see and review Golub's shows since 1996). As Brian Auger said, audiences should give Jeff Golub credit for recording a wonderful new CD and for still getting out there to share his music and play for fans, despite the difficulties associated with his recent blindness.
Jeff Golub together with keyboardist Brian Auger, drummer Steve Williams, and bass player Conrad Korsch did an excellent show. Brian Auger brought his very animated performance and amazing, extraordinary chops on B3 Hammond organ and keyboards, along with his humorous commentary in between songs. The band performed a number of songs from the new CD "Train Keeps A Rolling" including the rousing, funky tune "Cat," the beautiful and catchy "Isola Natale" (which in Italian means 'Christmas Island' that Auger wrote for his wife) arranged with the familiar, exuberant groove found on many Jeff Golub songs, and "Pusherman" (the first radio single). The group also played the fast-tempo title track tune "Train Keeps A Rolling" which would make an exciting song in a movie or TV scene with a speeding train or car chase) on a soundtrack.
The show also included the song "Freedom Jazz Dance" (popularized by Miles Davis and composed by saxophonist Eddie Harris. Harris also wrote the funky jazz tune "Cold Duck Time" which Jeff Golub did a seminal recording of on his 2002 CD "Do It Again" and is a fan favorite at many past Golub shows). In addition, as a tribute to his adopted hometown New York City, Jeff Golub told the story behind the song, and then played his classic, signature original contemporary jazz composition "Naked City" (title track from his 1996 CD) - a brooding, melodic masterpiece that demonstrates Golub's guitar prowess and always manages to emotionally move and impress audiences.
The NYC show also included special guest vocalist Julian Valencia on three upbeat songs from "Train Keeps A Rolling" - Jeff Golub's new CD with Brian Auger: "Happiness Is Just Around The Bend" (composed by Brian Auger), "Whenever You're Ready," (written by Bryan Auger and Barry Dean) and "I Love the Life I Live" (composed by Willie Dixon). Those songs are spirited, modern remakes, with the first two tunes having appeared on the 1973 CD "Closer to It" by Brian Auger's Oblivion Express. "Happiness Is Just Around The Bend" and "Whenever You're Ready" both have an upbeat fusion of Latin jazz, rock and R&B influences. The fresh, exciting arrangement on "Happiness is Just Around the Bend" seemed like an interesting hybrid of Santana-like Latin-jazz/rock with a driving "Disco Inferno"-like rhythm section (e.g. The Trammps). The song "I Love the Life I Live" has a rambunctious feel - a bluesy, swinging jazz arrangement to go with the spunky lyrics.
Julian Valencia's vocal tone and swagger are a little evocative of pop star Bruno Mars and his vocal timbre is also reminiscent of the bluesy tone of Alex Ligertwood, with a hint in his enunciation of soul R&B legend Marvin Gaye's vocals on "Let's Get It On." Alex Ligertwood was an original member of Brian Auger's Oblivion Express and he recently sang "Happiness is Just Around The Bend" and "Whenever You're Ready" on the new 2013 CD "Train Keeps A Rolling" by Jeff Golub with Brian Auger. (If Alex Ligertwood's voice sounds familiar, it's because he also sang on a number of Santana radio hits "Winning," "All I Ever Wanted," and "Hold On" and toured in Carlos Santana's band for many years.) Singer Julian Valencia, a young, budding new artist is about to release a five song Reggae EP which includes the tune "There You Go Girl." (See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mwAR1BrUQGM https://www.facebook.com/THMBWRS.)
The three vocal songs from the CD "Train Keeps A Rolling" that were performed live at the NYC show: "Happiness Is Just Around the Bend," "Whenever You're Ready" and the show's finale - "I Love the Life I Live" are bold, ideal song choices - lyrically and musically symbolizing the spiritual, personal, and musical resilience of Jeff Golub in the face of adversity (losing his eyesight in 2011 and a train accident in 2012).
The title track from the CD "Keep the Train A Rolling" was inspired after Jeff Golub - lucky to be alive - survived an alarming train accident in September 2012 when he accidentally stepped onto the subway tracks in NYC before a train arrived (while his seeing eye dog remained on the platform) and then was dragged briefly by the train before being pulled to safety.
At the NYC show on August 24th, Jeff Golub told the story to the audience that when he was in the ambulance last year going to the hospital from the train accident with what miraculously turned out to be only minor injuries - the medical technician said "you've obviously got some unfinished business" and Golub replied "and I think it's to play music."
The new Jeff Golub CD with Bryan Auger "Train Keeps A Rolling" shares the musical message that when dealing with life's challenges - keep going - keep the train rolling - and is a celebration of life. It's a reminder not to take anything or anyone for granted, and should be an inspiration for all of us.
To hear samples and buy Jeff Golub's new CD "Train Keeps a Rolling:" www.amazon.com
To contribute to the Jeff Golub Medical Fund online please visit: jeffgolub.com/golubmedical.html
or send a check payable to "Jeff Golub Medical Expenses" and mail to his manager: Bud Harner, Chapman & Co. Management Inc., 14011 Ventura Blvd # 405, Sherman Oaks, CA 91423, firstname.lastname@example.org