Title: Cab Driving Man
Artist: Mississippi Heat
Formats: CD, MP3
Release date: October 21, 2016
On their 12th release, Cab Driving Man, Mississippi Heat takes us on a journey through blues history, with songs running the gamut from down home Delta blues and NOLA boogie woogie to the contemporary electric blues of their own sweet home, Chicago. Following their highly successful 2014 release, Warning Shot, their new album showcases the depth, breadth, and artistry of a band that’s been together for 25 years. The five current members include founder/harpist Pierre Lacocque, lead singer Inetta Visor, and guitarist Michael Dotson, with the rhythm section headed up by Brian Quinn on bass and Terrance Williams on drums. Also featured on the majority of the tracks are Chris “Hambone” Cameron on keyboards and Giles Corey on guitar, along with other special guests.
The majority of the songs were composed by Lacocque, whose masterful storytelling often draws inspiration from significant events in Chicago history. For example, the title track references legendary bandleader Cab Calloway, who attended college in Chicago prior to his glory days at Harlem’s Cotton Club. Sounding a bit like a juked up, jumping jive version of “Land of the Rising Sun,” this track is definitely one of the highlights, with Sax Gordon adding a honking bari-sax and Lacocque and Cameron jumping on board with some tasty instrumental solos. Other highlights include the opener “Cupid Bound,” a tight rhythm and blues number that elicits some of Inetta Visor’s most soulful vocals, and “Rosalie” with its Latin inspired percussion courtesy of Ruben Alvarez, punctuated by Lacocque’s harmonica and Cameron’s riffs on the B3. This Latin influence continues on “Smooth Operator,” one of the two covers on the album, with Visor digging into the groove of this song popularized by Sarah Vaughan. Dotson takes over the vocals on his composition “Can’t Get Me No Traction,” providing a grittier edge to the hard driving blues-rock style of the song.
Cab Driving Man is another home run for Mississippi Heat, an infectious album with a wide range of musical influences that shake things up and keep us jiving through all 12 tracks.
Reviewed by Brenda Nelson-Strauss