Guitarist, trumpeter and vocalist Jeff Healey was known to most for his blistering guitar work as a leader and with bands like Dire Straits, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Buddy Guy, BB King, ZZ Top, Steve Lukather, and Eric Clapton. On many of Healey’s concerts he played trumpet, but he never was really known for work on this instrument. Interestingly enough, even though it was in the blues-rock world where he made a name for himself, his first love was always 1920s and 1930s styled jazz. It is music of that ilk, the sweetly swinging relaxing and enjoying a beer at a pub style of music, that is the focus of this recording.
First, as a trumpeter, Healey, is a marvelous musician. He plays lines so utterly and marvelously beautiful you can’t believe they come from the same blind guitarist who made the flat-on-the-lap playing he did even more remarkable. Whether playing with a mute, as on "You Can’t Pull The Wool Over My Eyes," or open belled, his tone is full-bodied and it’s obvious just how serious Healey was as a trumpeter; you can’t sound that good as an occasional trumpeter.
As a vocalist Healey’s deeply rich quasi-tenor/baritone mix is perfect for the pieces he picks. The lovely ballad "Time On My Hands" has never sounded so rich, but then again you can say the same thing about every song he sings on this recording. There is, of course, no way as gifted a musician as Healey was on the guitar that he could put it down for this recording. His duet with violinist Drew Jurecka on the Eddie Lang and Joe Venuti chestnut "The Wildcat" is incredible. All of Healey’s musical knowledge and intimate historical work on the guitar pays off in spades as they rip through this tune’s twists and turns with equal aplomb and bravura.
The third musician on this recording is pianist and clarinetist Ross Wooldridge. Technique and style are equally mixed in his abilities, and his quasi-stride style on "Deep Purple" perfectly melds taste and refinement. What you have here, in effect, is about as perfect an album as can be made. John Pizzarelli may have more fans with regard to this kind of music, but he’s never done a recording as incredible as this one. For guitarists this recording is required for no other reason than Healey proves why it’s so important to be serious about your craft with regard to music’s history, and for lovers of this kind of jazz, well, to be frank, you really not going to find a better album in this style.