The Kings of Strings, like the J. Geils Band, is a high-quality Boston-based unit. Geils and co-leader/guitarist Gerry Beaudoin, leader of the Boston Jazz Ensemble and the New Guitar Summit, have been associated since 1994. Beaudoin delivers sparkling single note and chordal solos while Geils provides the steady sense of swing that you associate with Freddie Green and the Basie band. The youthful Aaron Weinstein is featured on violin and mandolin. He plays with enthusiasm, agility and taste; he can swing like mad or tease the tune.
The overall mood of this release is relaxed swing. It opens with Stuff Smith's classic, "Desert Sands," and closes with "All Blues" by Miles where all kinds of interesting musical happenings occur above that lazily persistent background. Duke and Strayhorn are recognized with "Mellow Tone" and "A Train." Beaudoin contributes two originals: Jackie's Serenade," dedicated to his wife and suggestive of Spain, and the rollicking blues, "Blue Benedetto", a tribute to a master guitar maker.
"Sweet One," by bassist Bob Nieske, is aptly named while that most beautiful of ballads, "Here's That Rainy Day," is treated with tenderness, showcasing Weinstein on mandolin. There's Slim and Slam's 'Flat Foot Floogie" and you'll enjoy following the Globetrotters' bouncing ball in "Sweet Georgia Brown." "Out of Nowhere" provides opportunity for hot chorus trading while "I Thought About You,"is driven by Beaudoin's solo chords. Then off to the Hot Club; you'll sense the presence of Grappelli and Django in their "Minor Blues" and Beaudoin's solo salutes his mentor, Bucky Pizzarelli.
This CD has brought good cheer --and fine music--to this otherwise dark and rainy day. It will do the same when the sun shines.