This battle-hardened collection of All Stars consists of 79-year old Rock & Roll legend Jimmy Cavallo, Louisiana Hall Of Famer Johnny Pennino, plus "Mr. Versatlity" Pat Carey who’s chalked up numerous awards as Canada’s top R&B player. To its very core, "Steppin’ Out Of Blue Monday" is a smile-inducing journey down memory lane steeped in the spirit of the Golden Days of Rock ‘n’ Roll when honkers and wailers threw the gauntlet down and launched the Big Beat.
This release is also a heartfelt tribute to the place that almost disappeared into the wake of Hurricane Katrina. But "Steppin' Out Of Blue Monday" is also an affirmation that the best way of getting on with life is through music, in this instance New Orleans R&B 50's-style. Every single glorious note is part of a stream of classic riffs and these indomitable veterans know it all like the back of their well-traveled hands.
Being privy to their thundering versions of a couple of Fats Domino classics ("Blue Monday", "Let The Four Winds Blow") is worth the price of admission alone. There’s also a smokin’ adaptation of "Walkin’ With Mr. Lee" in honor of legendary New Orleans saxophonist Lee Allen.
Johnny Pennino is the very embodiment of the New Orleans sound; his roots running particularly deep, stretching back 50 years ago when the Crescent City was the bubbling cauldron of happening vibes. Back then, JP and his band the Emperors were backing the likes of Little Richard, Fats Domino, and Smiley Lewis. Johnny is back performing on Bourbon Street now, giving his heart and soul to express the musical gifts of the people of New Orleans. Hurricane Katrina limited his contributions here somewhat, but Pennino makes a particularly powerful impression on the sublime "Europa".
There’s much more to savor: I rolled over like a dog when I heard "Roll ‘Em Pete"--the Big Joe Turner/Pete Johnson classic--which crackles with high steppin’ energy and features some of the most playful sax riffs heard in eons. It also features Mike Fonfara and Jake Langley on piano and guitar respectively, and these two gents always add some extra tasty spice to the tender, juicy steak.
Pat Carey is awesome as always, while Cavallo is in pitch-perfect form throughout with this legendary tenor saxophonist putting the icing on the cake with his hard driving vocals. I was particularly smitten by his rivetting take on the Hank Williams standard "You Win Again".
Come to think of it, that song's title perfectly encapsulates the joyful spirit of this release, as the timelessness of this special music gets revealed in dramatic and magical fashion by these Three Treasures.