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Centerpiece by Hank Crawford/Calvin Newborn

Now, here’s some great jazz-blues originally recorded in the late 1970s, showcasing a marvelous collaboration between the legendary Hank Crawford and jazz-blues buddy Calvin Newborn. This is some really lucid, sultry, and funky (for that era) vintage material. It’s the kind of blend that offers up the duo’s introspective perspective at that time (i.e., Let’s look inside and see just who we are and what the blues and jazz--Memphis style--really means to us).

The super-bluesy "Gee, Baby, Ain’t I Good to You" just begs for that quiet late-night stroll along a beach with that someone special as you seek to inject substance into your relationship. Maybe it just puts you on a porch in a slow rocking chair on a lazy, sunny afternoon just strummin’ and reminiscing about some invaluable moment in your life. Newborn’s guitar speaks volumes in this mode. You only have to let it take over. The same is true of Crawford’s sax and keyboard work.

Then, there’s Bobby Womack’s "Breezin’," made famous (of course) by jazz strongman George Benson. Crawford and Newborn do the piece healthy justice. My favorites here, however, are "I Had a Dream," written by Hubert Laws, and Crawford’s own "I Can’t Stand It." Blues with power, soul-deep power. If you like your blues really lazy, but with punch, you’ll love the last track "Frame for the Blues."

This never-before-released collaboration casts a meaningful light on the Memphis jazz-blues scene of that time. A must-have treat for fans of Memphis jazz, the blues or, more specifically, Crawford/Newborn fans. We owe Crawford and Newborn a debt of gratitude for this fantastic piece of work. Great minds do work well together.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Hank Crawford/Calvin Newborn
  • CD Title: Centerpiece
  • Genre: Blues
  • Year Released: 2006
  • Record Label: Empire Musicwerks
  • Rating: Three Stars
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