I doubt anybody who has ever attended a Jools Holland concert has left disappointed. When it comes to putting on a show filled with great music, talented musicians and good, old-fashioned “boogie woogie” infused rhythm and blues, he has few peers. Never the strongest on vocals, he makes up for that with jaw-dropping performances on the piano and with some talented guest vocalists as well as his regulars such as the inimitable Ruby Turner.
When it came to recording this album, Holland pretty much adopted the same formula but moved up a gear with his choice of guests. They include Sir Tom Jones, Gregory Porter, Joe Bonamassa, Jamie Cullum, Booker T, Herbie Hancock and many more. Four made-for-TV recordings have also been included. The format has been well tried and tested by Holland on stage, TV and on previous albums and is a proven success.
What, personally, appeals to me about these “friends” albums is that they have a very comfortable retro feel about them and remind me of those great sampler albums released by record labels back in the 60s and 70s featuring multiple artists. Dare I say that they even have a feel of the “That’s What I Call Music!” series about them, with each album something of Woolworths’ pick ’n’ mix!
The variety on this album is bordering on the eclectic, but Holland’s diverse musical interests, his strong stewardship, and the calibre of the musicians means that the none of the tracks ever disappoints. Nitin Sawhney also plays a huge role in production and performing. Standout tracks for me are Tom Jones (Forgive Me), Gregory Porter (Mona Lisa), Jamie Cullum (Ghost In The Piano), and Dr John (Boogie Woogie Twins) but there isn’t a bad track on the album.
It may be a cliché, but Jools Holland has become something of a national treasure and the UK music scene needs him.
Instructions; Morris Dance; Rockin’ Lock-In; Forgive Me; Blues For The End Of Time; Hard Times; Surfin’; Love Letter To Groningen; St Louis Blues; Mona Lisa; Requiem; Boogie Woogie Twins; Prelude No 1 In C Minor; Ghost In The Piano; To Whom It May Concern; Etude 53; Do The Boogie; Abide With Me; Rockin’ The Boogie; Worst Man In London; The Piano (73.23)
Holland (p) on all tracks with guest artists including Trombone Shorty (tb); Booker T (org); Tom Jones, Gregory Porter, Ruby Turner (v); David Gilmour, Joe Bonamassa (g); David Sanborn, Yolanda Brown (s); Lang Lang, Herbie Hancock, Dr. John, Jamie Cullum, Rick Wakeman (p); Marcus Miller (b); Ayanna Witter-Johnson (v, c); Mousse T (g, pc); Moses Boyd (d); Nitin Sawhney (programming and production). Additional musicians include The Rhythm & Blues Orchestra and London Contemporary Voices. Various locations, 1988-2020.