There are a couple of ways to approach guitarist Jeff Golub’s (www.jeffgolub.com) forthcoming “Train Keeps A Rolling,” on which he teams with jazz-rock pioneer Brian Auger. There’s the triumphant human interest story about the man who will release his first new album on Tuesday (August 13) since going blind 2 years ago. The other angle is all about the music. Critical Jazz says “He (Golub) has never played better” about the soul-jazz set that Golub produced with Grammy-nominated producer Bud Harner. The first single, an edgy version of Curtis Mayfield’s gritty street chronicle “Pusherman,” has earned most added and most increased plays honors at radio two weeks in a row.
The album artwork shows Golub toting his guitar on the cover with his new guide dog, Luke, at the junction of train tracks. The image and the name of the album was spawned by Golub’s near death experience last September when he tumbled onto the New York City subway tracks and was clipped and dragged by a train as Luke and bystanders stood by. Miraculously the chart-topping guitarist and former sideman for Rod Stewart, Billy Squier and numerous other stars escaped the encounter with only minor scrapes and bruises. Undeterred by the setbacks which started when the optic nerves in both eyes mysteriously collapsed, Golub picked up his guitar and went back to doing what he loves. He wrote the album’s title track, “Train Keeps A Rolling,” mirroring his undaunted spirit.
While the blues remain in evidence in the guitar slinger’s arsenal, Golub wanted to make a jazz record possessing a lot of soul. Teaming with Auger to make a guitar-Hammond B3 album was Harner’s idea, which turned out to be a divine union resulting in a retro-sounding collection featuring torrid guitar and keyboard soloing. Auger’s earlier work with Brian Auger’s Oblivion Express inspired Golub’s formative years by demonstrating to the then teenager that rockers could play jazz. The original drummer from that band, Steve Ferrone, keeps the beat on “Train Keeps A Rolling,” with bassist Derek Frank and percussionist Luis Conte completing the taut rhythm section. A mighty 4-person horn section (Mindi Abair, Nick Lane, Dave Woodford and Steve Madaio) adds muscle to help power the tracks. In addition to the smoking instrumentals are several vocal numbers featuring the unique voices of Christopher Cross (a cover of Paul Carrack’s “How Long”), Ambrosia’s David Pack (a spacy take on The Police’s “Walking On The Moon”) and The Oblivion Express’ vocalist Alex Ligertwood on a pair of tunes originally recorded by the British outfit (“Happiness Is Just Around The Bend” and “Whenever You’re Ready”). Golub penned the boisterous “J&B” for the set and Auger contributed a couple originals (“Isola Natale” and “Shepherds Bush Market”) that fit alongside rollicking renditions of Lalo Schifrin’s “The Cat” and Willie Dixon’s “I Love The Life I Live.”
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