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Album Review

This is an all-instrumental disc that is exclusively neither blues nor jazz, but a blend of each. It marked the first time the tasty Chicago guitarist recorded only instrumentals, but folks who were Specter fans before this one could probably feel it coming. Though he has worked with some delightful vocalists (Barkin' Bill Smith, Lenny Lynn, Tad Robinson, and Lynwood Slim) he has sprinkled a few instrumentals into previous albums, and the format clearly suits him perfectly. For the most part, Specter is accompanied here by his working band and gives Rob Waters plenty of room to roam on Hammond B-3. Nine tunes are originals (one by Waters), and covers include Dizzy Gillespie's "Birk's Works," the Meters' "Look-Ka Py Py," and "Hot Cha" (a Willie Woods tune that became a hit for Junior Walker). The band also swings on soul-jazz organist Charles Earland's "The Mighty Burner" (the flipside to Earland's "More Today Than Yesterday"). You won't find many covers of this one, save a 1970 recording by Clarence Wheeler and the Enforcers. "At Whit's End" is Specter's tribute to his late compadre and guitar pal, Bob Whitman. The minor-key cha-cha spotlights Specter's frugal, delicately paced guitar style and Waters' rapid B-3 runs. "Blues A-La-King," with phrasing similar to some of B.B. Kings' earlier work, is a "backward" shuffle that best demonstrates how tight this band is. Specter and Waters adopt a marvelously aloof, sassy mood and take off together on the opening phrases of "The Haleiwa Shuffle," named for the artist's favorite Oahu getaway. The only song that doesn't fall in line with the general feeling here is "Dark Hour Blues," a slow and grinding stomp in the key of E through J.L. Hooker/Lightnin' Hopkins territory that is tacked on to the end of the disc. Still, it's proof positive that Specter can do it all. Speculatin has set the record straight: blues instrumentals are not just for breakfast anymore!


Born: 21 May 1963 in Chicago, IL

Genre: Blues

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

A first-tier blues and jazz guitarist, Dave Specter, whether working solo as a bandleader or as a sideman for artists like Johnny Littlejohn or Son Seals, has always brought intelligence and sharp, crisp playing to the music table, a sort of contemporary version of T-Bone Walker. Born on Chicago's northwest side on May 21, 1963, Specter didn't pick up the guitar until he was 18 years old, but once he did, he never looked back. Early on he worked as a support player for Littlejohn, Seals, and the...
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Speculatin', Dave Specter
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