Twenty years ago, blues singer and part-time drummer James Van Buren
founded JVB Records and began promoting himself to his ever-growing legion of fans. This very successful venture produced the critically acclaimed albums "It's All Over" and "I Ain't Doin' Too Bad" and the hit single "Three Handed Woman." Van Buren's latest release, "James Van Buren & Richie Cole Live At The Kasbah"
is a live album recorded at the Kasbah club in his hometown of Denver, and featuring as special guest altoist Richie Cole.
This CD faithfully captures the sound and intimacy of a live club performance (including a few minor technical warts that can be easily overlooked) and features a superb jazz trio backing Van Buren's exuberant vocals. Denver veteran pianist Ed Gunnison functions adeptly both as accompanist and a hard-swinging soloist. And Richie Cole's Bird-inspired alto work soars, particularly on "Out of Nowhere."
Van Buren lacks the kind of voice that empowers singers like Kevin Mahogany, but makes up for his vocal shortcomings with his energy and hard-driving swing. Though Van Buren is mostly known to fans as a top-notch blues singer, he handles the program of jazz standards with skill and wit. And he gets a chance to exercise his blues chops on an extended version of the old Count Basie warrior's, "Goin' To Chicago Blues."
The sincerity of Van Burnish performance combined with Gymnasium's swinging rhythm section and Richie Cole (whose playing always lights up an album) has given this CD a permanent spot on the top of my CD player. I'm sure that it will also be a favorite of anyone who gives it a listen.