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Doug Wamble - Blues in the Present Tense (Halcyonic)

17 October 2022

Guitarist Doug Wamble has always had one foot in jazz and the other in the blues, and his latest album Blues in the Present Tense continues his successful crossbreed. Blues structures and chord patterns meet jazz harmonies and bebop soloing, with support to his warm vocals and resophonic guitar provided by drummer Jeff “Tain” Watts, bassist Eric Revis and mysterious saxophonist Prometheus Jenkins (whose real name likely rhymes with “Stanford Carzalis”). Pulling no punches, Wamble uses his prodigious talents to comment on the hate and hypocrisy of contemporary society – “I wonder if He is listening/When you speak your fraud,” he sneers in “MAGA Brain,” a direct attack on those who claim divine righteousness as they support one of the most overtly amoral (ex) presidents in history. (As he mentions in the one-sheet, as the parent of a LGBTQ child, he can’t afford to agree to disagree.) In an attempt to at least understand where the opposition comes from, he tries to see things through their eyes in “If I’m Evil,” “No Worries” and “Blues For the Praying Man,” though he appropriately makes no effort to keep the satire button turned off. He’s not just on his soapbox, however, venturing into more introspective and exploratory territory on “Blues To the Unfound” (the only speechless tune),” “Homesick” and “Along the Way.” The rhythm section often pushes Wamble into postbop territory, and Mars – sorry, Jenkins lays down some spectacular solos. Blues in the Present Tense is smart, funny and heartfelt lyrically, and often stunning musically – an impressive show all the way around.