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Bluestate by Doug Wamble

Guitarist/vocalist Doug Wamble is something of an enigma, unless you’ve heard Mose Allison and/or Ray Charles. Then, it all becomes clear who/what Wamble is. No, he is not quite at the level of the aforementioned icons, but he is perpetuating their legacy (whether he’s aware of it or not). What Wamble, Charles, & Allison have in common is their heartfelt immersion in several American music traditions and a refusal to wear the proverbial stylistic straitjacket of a "[fill-in-the-blank] artist." As Charles and Allison absorbed the lessons of and played jazz, blues, country music, and American Songbook pop, Doug Wamble’s approach mirrors theirs without "sounding like" either.

His voice has the soulful grit and contemplative/musing aspects of Charles and Van Morrison, with the plainspoken earthiness of folk and the supple improvisation of jazz. (For a blithe simile, imagine a cross between master songster Hoagy Carmichael and Sting in his more relaxed, middle-range mode.) Strains of blues, bop (dig the thorny/twist-y swinger "The Homewrecker Hump"), folk and country picking inform his guitar playing - a touch of Django, a soupcon of Les Paul, some of the genial, swing-to-bop-and-back-again aptitude of Herb Ellis and a trace of the devilish slide of Duane Allman. He can effortlessly and unaffectedly switch gears, as he does on the gospel-blues "Rockin’ Jerusalem," where he segues from obsessive bottleneck/slide gospel fervor to classy, cool-cat bebop. Then, Branford Marsalis focused yet energy-charged tenor raises the temp by many degrees. And the best part is, Wamble does it without any facile flash or histrionic, look-how-many-notes-I-can-hit-in-15-seconds hooey. His bandmates are no slouches either: pianist Roy Dunlap has that Charles/"King" Cole/Hank Jones-type easy swing and economy (though he can bang-out some McCoy Tyner/John Hicks agitation, as well). The rhythm team keeps things moving along nicely, regardless of stylistic shift. They don’t make ‘em like they used to? Investigate this Doug Wamble fellow, especially if you "dig" Mose, Bro Ray, Van, Georgie Fame, Cassandra Wilson and the woefully underrated singer/songwriter Dirk Hamilton.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Doug Wamble
  • CD Title: Bluestate
  • Genre: Other
  • Year Released: 2005
  • Record Label: Marsalis Music
  • Tracks: If I Live To See The Day, Washing Of The Water, The Homewrecker Hump, Antoine’s Pillow Rock, Rockin’ Jerusalem*, One-Ninin’, No More Shrubs In Casablanca, Have A Talk With God, Gone Away, The Bear And The Toad
  • Musicians: Doug Wamble (vocals, guitar), Roy Dunlap (piano), Jeff Hanley (bass), Peter Miles (drums); Branford Marsalis (tenor saxophone)*
  • Rating: Five Stars
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