Kenny “Blues Boss” Wayne was recently inducted into the Boogie-Woogie Hall of Fame because he’s a great pianist in that percussive style of blues improvisation, and an overall fantastic entertainer to boot. But the accolade could lead to his typecasting. Don’t do it! Just go get “Go, Just Do it!”
Certainly every blues music fan, and likely any music fan period, will love the album. At 75 years-young, Wayne has cut 13 absolutely outstanding songs — 10 by his pen —full of blues diversity, and overflowing with incandescent talent and passion.
Wayne was born and raised on the West Coast and for a time in New Orleans, but long ago made his home in Vancouver, British Columbia. All very happy places for him, by the sounds of things here. Even as he wallows in rejection during the modern-sounding “Lost & Found,” the music’s up. But, a funky take of Percy Mayfield’s “Don’t Want to Be the President,” featuring Wayne’s son Cory Spruell (aka SeQuall) rapping and railing against the current occupant of the White House, does feature some real “down” time, if you will.
The album sets off in jubilant style with “Just Do It,” featuring the incredible Dawn Tyler Watson in duet with Wayne. The rhythmic vibe conjures New Orleans at night, and their voices together are at once forceful and as sweet as a morning beignet. More rolling Crescent City keys and old-time rock ‘n’ roll beats power the one-two punches behind “You Did a Number on Me” and “Sittin’ in My Rockin’ Chair,” the former featuring Wayne in a skintight duet with Julie Masi, formerly of Canada’s Juno Award-winning Parachute Club. Mayfield’s “You’re in for a Big Surprise,” written for Ray Charles, follows, and features another radiant duet, this time with the Grammy Award-winning singer Diane Schuur. Although anger burns at the song’s core, the music glitters, and highlights a beautifully jazzy side of the blues.
Wayne wrote the brass-fired “Sorry Ain’t Good Enough” in a contemporary soul style, and again with Watson by his side, succeeded in making it shine brightly in that realm. That’s followed by a loose as a goose version of J.J. Cale’s classic, “Call Me the Breeze,” featuring some excellent Charlie Musselwhite-like harp playing by Sherman “Tank” Doucette. Every player present, including B.B. King’s ex-bassist Russell Jackson, are celebrated pros and comprise one heck of a big band.
A piano-playing livewire, Kenny “Blues Boss” Wayne can obviously go anywhere within the blues, and make it feel great!
‘Go, Just Do It!’
Label: Stony Plain Records
Release: June 12, 2020