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Century of the Blues

Professor Louie & The Crowmatix

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Album Review

Professor Louie & the Crowmatix, a group of well-heeled music vets from upstate New York, turn their Americana leanings strictly toward blues music on Century of the Blues, mixing originals with some of their favorite covers from the genre. Professor Louie (aka Aaron Hurwitz) made a name for himself in the '90s while working with members of the Band as a producer/engineer and musician (Rick Danko even gave Louie his nickname), and "Clouds in My Heart" — a simmering, spacious original — simultaneously nods to the Band and Muddy Waters as influences on the Crowmatix. Professor Louie & the Crowmatix revel in big, groove-based arrangements spurred by a formidable horn section led by Tom "Bones" Malone, longtime member of Paul Shaffer's CBS Orchestra. Vocally, Louie lands somewhere between Levon Helm and Ray Charles — but what one really appreciates on this album is the dead-serious musicianship. The group prefers big, fleshed-out arrangements, spiking numbers like Al Green's "Ain't No Fun to Me" and Elmore James' "Shake Your Money Maker" with a sense of raucous yet disciplined joy. On this album, the bandmembers display themselves as top-notch blues interpreters; nevertheless, the most stirring track — the smoldering, horn-fueled "Some Bad News" — is actually a band original, penned by Louie and vocalist Marie Spinosa in a B.B. King vein. Century of the Blues is as solid a contemporary blues album as you'll find out there, with sophisticated musicianship and arrangements throughout.

Century of the Blues, Professor Louie & The Crowmatix
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