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Country Libations

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Album Review

When one sees the name Marsalis Music, the question that comes to mind is "Which Marsalis?" Ellis? Wynton? Branford? Delfeayo? Jason? The answer is Branford; saxophonist Branford Marsalis is the founder/owner of Marsalis Music, a Rounder-distributed label that was launched in 2003. Since the '80s, it has been obvious that Branford and Wynton have very different tastes — Wynton is known for being a jazz snob, whereas Branford is more eclectic and has done his share of guest spots on rock and R&B projects. So it isn't surprising that Marsalis Music is a jazz-friendly label but not a jazz-only label. Country Libations, which Branford produced for his company, isn't the sort of album that a jazz snob would release — jazz, blues, and gospel are equally important parts of what acoustic guitarist/singer Doug Wamble does on this promising debut album. Wamble certainly isn't an easy artist to categorize or pigeonhole. He's a jazz instrumentalist, but he's also a blues singer — he's a jazz vocalist, but he also sings African-American gospel. As far as his taste in jazz goes, Wamble doesn't limit himself to one particular era. Parts of Country Libations are mindful of the swing and classic jazz of the '30s, but other parts show an awareness of the modal post-bop that John Coltrane and his colleagues provided in the '60s. Wamble even dabbles in the mildly avant-garde; the instrumental "Dim Tangy Tennessee Twang" hints at Ornette Coleman. Of course, someone this far-reaching and difficult to categorize would terrify a lot of marketing people, so Branford deserves applause for having the guts to sign Wamble. And much to his credit, the expressive Wamble is able to take this CD in different directions without sounding confused or erratic — he makes everything fit together on this unpredictable yet focused debut.


Born: 1974 in Clarksville, TN

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '00s

Guitarist/vocalist Doug Wamble is a jazz traditionalist in the best sense of the word. Combining music from his southern roots with jazz, Wamble creates a unique sound that touches upon rural blues, gospel, swing, and post-bop. Although initially inspired to take up jazz after hearing recordings of innovative guitarist Charlie Christian, the Tennessee native actually began his studies at Memphis State University as a record engineering major. It wasn't until attending a Harry Connick Jr. concert...
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Country Libations, Doug Wamble
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