Downtown Los Angeles, circa 1983

Downtown Los Angeles, circa 1983
STMcC in downtown Los Angeles, circa 1983

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

BONE-DEEP BLUES!

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[This review was originally published at BigBitch.com on March 13, 2005.]
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GOOD HANDS
Danny Caron
2003
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Look, I'm 45 years old (my arthritic knees feel at least twice that age) and most people my age are rarely buying new music. I'm no exception. By 45, you know what you like and you've owned it for years. Because the tape deck in my truck broke several months back, I've been forced to listen to the radio while driving.
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Going home from work after midnight a few weeks ago, I put on the local pseudo-Jazz station. Late, when they figure nobody's listening anyway, KYOT sometimes shelves the Kenny G and Dave Koz and spins stuff a little more adventurous. About halfway home they started playing some hot guitarist whose style I did not recognize. Damn! This guy was GOOD! I pulled into my garage, shut off the engine and just sat there listening -- unable to go into the house until the track concluded. And I'm thinking: "You KYOT Airheadzona DJ better tell me who this is, doggone it!" 

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"That was DANNY CARON with THE PROMISE", he announced. Now, I know from past experiences that whenever a musical piece commands my attention to that degree upon first listen, I've got a winner.
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I ordered 'GOOD HANDS' from Amazon and when it arrived I found myself staring at a middle-aged, balding guy who looked like the archetypal late night television talk show host. My first impression: Well, yeah it's good, but maybe I didn't really need to own it. That opinion was radically reversed by my 4th or 5th trip through the nearly hour-long disc. By then, my ears had picked-up on what he was doing with that guitar, and now I'm thinking, "OH, HOKEY-SMOKE, MAN!".
While I have no doubt that CARON could trade blazing licks with virtually any "guitar god" out there (and although he does cut loose on the brief GATE WALKS THE BOARD) that's not what 'GOOD HANDS' is all about. These are mostly slow to mid-tempo deeply smoldering Blues, but played with awesome Jazz chops. The first thing you'll notice is the impeccable cleanness of his sound: sharp, single-note runs possessing an extraordinary finesse and rhythmic sense!

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But after your ears become "educated" you begin to notice the brilliantly executed shadings he employs to wring out the genuine emotional content of each piece. Hey, I love my Blues guitarists, but even the "Kings" (B.B., Albert and Freddie) could learn a thing from CARON about Blues nuance. Dang! This is just an exquisite Blues guitar album of uncommon sensitivity -- as soulful a recording as I have ever heard! If you're a young guitarist and you want to learn a thing or two about imbuing your music with an authentic feeling, a deep passion, 'GOOD HANDS' has a lot to teach you.
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And speaking of "HANDS", what's up with Caron's digits? The photographs indicate that either this guy is the size of Yao Ming, or else he has the most inordinately long fingers! That explains how he maneuvers around the neck of that guitar so nimbly.
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The tracks also contain some first-class accompaniment, notably: John Burr's romantic piano, Jim Pugh's funky Hammond B-3 organ, and a riotous tenor sax solo by Charles McNeal on HEY JIMMY. (Although I could do without the Charles Brown vocals on cuts #5 and #11.) If you like the classic Jazz guitarists such as Wes Montgomery, Kenny Burrell, Joe Pass, and early George Benson, then you'll SURELY want to add Danny Caron to your collection.
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My favorite piece is RAINY NIGHT IN GEORGIA. No, on second thought, I'd say IN A SENTIMENTAL MOOD. Check that! It's definitely SHINE ON.
Alright, I really can't decide.
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But did you notice that I didn't even mention THE PROMISE -- the head-turning track I heard on the radio that caught my attention to begin with? That's how impressive this album is! What a travesty of justice that so much acclaim is lavished on each new long-haired, Hard Rock speed-freak guitarist who comes along, but a player like THIS remains unknown. He's never going to get the recognition that he deserves, but hey, you can forget all about Allstate, man, because you're in REALLY 'GOOD HANDS' with DANNY CARON!
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~ Stephen T. McCarthy
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7 comments:

  1. I remember when you wrote that review. Damn time flies!! Good review there Grasshopper.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I thank you, Master Po.

      Yeah, a lot of beer has passed over the tongue and through the bladder since I wrote this one, eh?

      It's still amongst my favorite albums though. (Pretty damn cool that Danny Caron made an appearance in the comment section of my BOTB installment where I featured him. I'm glad he beat Richie Havens.)

      ~ D-FensDogG
      'Loyal American Underground'

      Delete
  2. "Snatch the pebble from my hand."

    You or I probably couldn't do it... but I'll bet Danny could.

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    1. Yup. Danny could probably even snatch the pebble and then put it back before the hand closed.

      ~ D-FensDogG
      'Loyal American Undergrouund'

      Delete
    2. I could snatch it, polish it, break for lunch and then replace it before the hand closed. And that's with a hangover and a terrible nights sleep.

      Delete
    3. Yeah, but could you pitch it?!

      ~ D-FensDogG
      'Loyal American Underground'

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    4. Hmmm. Good point.

      Delete

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