A new CD from Blue Largo called Sing Your Own Song drops Friday...
It's hard to believe it's been 12 years since we've heard new music from Eric Lieberman and Alicia Aragon. Truth be told, it's been worth the wait. Sing Your Own Song is a collection of fourteen recordings that Lieberman says he's "incredibly proud of." Understandable considering half of the project is all new material written by an artist who never thought of himself as a songwriter. That and the fact his friends who just happen to be some of the best musicians in Southern California appear on the CD. Lieberman grins when he admits it made the entire production "more meaningful and personally rewarding than anything we could have imagined."
The obvious question, what took so long? Back in 2006 Eric was diagnosed with a rare neurological condition known as focal dystonia. Refusing to play the "victim" role and, with Alicia by his side, Lieberman has spent the last eight and a half years retraining muscle movements by practicing or playing an average of five hours a day, sometimes until the wee hours of the morning. Determination and dedication paid off and Sing Your Own Song is the culmination of those efforts.
From the gospel flavor of the title track, to the screaming sax from Jonny Viau in "Nothin' to Prove," it's storytelling in its purest musical form. Lieberman breaks out the slide and Nathan James shines on his resonator as the CD comes full circle and ends with a satisfying, good-time blues romp, the Vinson-Chatmon classic "Sittin' on Top of the World." Recorded in just four days at Sacred Cat Studios earlier this summer, the entire production gives listeners a glimpse into the endless possibilities when an artist refuses to give up or give in.
Check out Blue Largo at the Sing Your Own Song CD release party happening Friday September 18th at Tio Leo's. Showtime is 8pm and there's no cover, so put on your party shoes.
- Tim Mattox
Blue Largo CD Release Party at Tio Leo's
SAN DIEGO, September 18th -The room was packed with fans, friends, musicians and dancers at Tio Leo's for Blue Largo's CD release. Many of the musicians who contributed to this labor of love were on stage including Jonny Viau on sax and percussions, Rafael Salmon on organ, Dave Castel De Oro on sax, Marcos B. Bashore on drums, Art Kraatz on upright bass, Taryn Donath on piano and Nathan James on guitar. Ruby Presnell made a special appearance lending her grace and beauty and talent to the show with a little bit of rumba and jazz. The stars of the evening were definitely Eric Lieberman and Alicia Aragon who together are the cornerstone of this much loved band. The dance floor was constantly all in motion for every jump blues, jazz and swing tune played this amazing night.
- Eli Medellin
"Still In Love With You"
Based in San Diego, Blue Largo plays the blues that we've grown up with and don't ever want to forget. Favorites such as "Rose Room," "Lover Man," "I've Got You Under My Skin" and "How Deep Is The Ocean" are always welcome. Guitarist Eric Lieberman and vocalist Alicia Aragon interpret them with a subtle passion that can only be found in the blues. What they feel night after night on Southland gigs comes through loud and clear to establish a firm bond between our generations and folks like Ruth Brown, T-Bone Walker, Louis Jordan, Johnny Otis and Dinah Washington.
Aragon and Lieberman have added several originals to their second album, which - by the way - deserves a nomination for this year's ten-best list. "No Denyin'," "Ain't Gonna Compromise" and "Sugar Baby" capture the heart and soul of New Orleans and echo the influence that spread rapidly from the Mississippi Delta all over the world. Reflecting the magic that we recall from the early Nat King Cole Trio, Aragon delivers "Besame Mucho" in a moving rendition that oozes that universal spirit. For that one, Neal Wauchope contributes exciting piano work to wrap it all together.
Blue Largo has covered all the bases, from slow blues anthems by Leonard Feather and Julia Lee to classics by Irving Berlin and Cole Porter. Standout instrumental work from baritone saxophonist Troy Jennings, pianist Sonny Leyland, bassist Christopher Michaels and drummer Phil Rowley adds a strong measure of professional charm. The band accomplishes both a swing revival and an original expression of the love we share for the blues.
- Jim Santella
Still In Love With You, the second releas from California's Blue Largo, works a considerably more uptown vein, paying tribute to jazz and blues artists from the '40's and '50's by recording standards and blues like "I've Got You Under My Skin", "Baby Get Lost", Johnny Otis' "Feel Like Cryin' Again" and "Beseme Much". The group has the right feel, built up from the sublime rhythm section of Phil Rowley and Chris Michaels. Special mention must go to the piano players, Sonny Leyland and Neal Wauchope. The horn charts work well, and hats off to main man, guitarist Eric Lieberman, for on-the--spot rhythms and clean lead work. Alicia Aragon's vocals conjure smoky clubs, tuxedos and evening gowns.
- Ed Ivey, Blues Bites
"Still In Love With You"
This San Diego band's reverence for the blues of the '30s and '40s is unsurpassed. And it's displayed in every note here. Mastermind Eric Lieberman is a passionate devotee of an era where songs by Cole Porter and Irving Berlin crisscrossed with the styles of T-Bone Walker and Johnny Otis. Lieberman is a student of blues guitar, and he shows that in each and every song, never wasting a single note.
Singer Alicia Aragon has never sounded better, and horn partners Jonny Viau, Troy Jennings and Robbie Smith are impeccably in-step. Keyboard players Sonny Leyland and Neal Wauchope, drummer Phil Rowley and bassist Christopher Michaels hold the beat in the framework intended.
- Michael Kinsman
Blue Largo performs timeless music that was introduced throughout a century that witnessed the development of jazz, blues, boogie-woogie, swing and jump blues. Guitarist Eric Lieberman has been a driving force on the Southern California blues scene for nearly twenty years. Early on, he led the Rhumboogies and Juke Stompers, co-led 47 Combo, and then organized Blue Largo in 1999. The ensemble includes sultry vocalist Alicia Aragon, soulful tenor saxophonist Jonny Viau, rollicking pianist Sue Palmer, and the ever-tasteful stability of rhythm-mates Roger Daschle on upright bass & Phil Rowley on drums.
Lieberman and Aragon lead Blue Largo with veteran expressiveness and a sincere interpretation. Their debut album includes nods to most of their primary influences. Billie Holiday's soulful ballad, "Fine and Mellow," recalls vocal history while infusing superb instrumental solo work by Lieberman and Viau. Nat King Cole's "Pitchin' Up a Boogie" reflects on a bygone era of relaxed swing. Aragon's interpretation of the ballad, "One for my Baby (and One More for the Road)," brings out the intended emotion while introducing impressive trumpet work by Robbie Smith. The singer is at her best on "Fat Daddy," where she seems to pick up extra inspiration for her storytellin' approach to a rock & roll arrangement. Aragon's distinctive way with words makes it fit.
Three instrumental numbers feature Lieberman's guitar. Tight horns and a dripping-wet tenor solo make Bill Doggett's "Honky Tonk" ooze with a universal spirit. T-Bone Walker's "Strollin' with Bone" and a slow, expressive "Sweet and Lovely" allow Lieberman's vocal guitar style to take center stage. Other San Diego area guests round out the session. Eddie Croft's tenor sax solo on Benny Goodman's "Swing Brother Swing" bounces lightly with expression. Similarly, Troy Jennings' baritone sax solo on Julia Lee's blues, "If It's Good," proves light and fluid. Audio clips of Blue Largo's music are available from www.bluelargoblues.com. The band's contact number is (858)550-0313.
- Jim Santella
Blue neon filtered through a smoky haze, velvet-lined booths, oh-so-dry martinis, a lipstick-on-the-collar midnight sojourn for the lovelorn — San Diego retro-swingers Blue Largo paint their musical picture so clearly you can smell the Naugahyde and sweet dancefloor sweat on What a Day! (self-release). Alicia Aragon carries the vocal torch lovingly, with guitarist Eric Lieberman and a host of great side players laying out the dance-hall grind. Billie Holiday's "Fine and Mellow" is exquisitely covered. Best Cut: "One for My Baby (And One More for the Road)"; Aragon's languid lyrics and jazzy vibrato are charming.
- Ed Ivey, Blues Bites
Blue Largo is a blues band. Well, it's jazz, really. But it's Swing too... Oh hell, it's all three rolled up in an old-timey homage to genre heros past. What a Day! includes lesser-known works from iconic songbirds like Billie Holiday, Dinah Washington, and electric-blues pioneer, T-Bone Walker.
The members of Blue Largo are obviously realists, and have rendered these songs in their intended form, rather than trying to deconstruct and reinterpret them. Alicia Aragon's vocals conjure Holiday, especially on the slow-tempo blues grooves, "Fine and Mellow" and "Love Me or Leave Me." The pace picks up with the title track and "If It's Good," two swingin' numbers that yearn to get the boogie on.
The album features some of San Diego's finest musicians: tenor saxophonist, Jonny Viau; pianist, Sue Palmer; and guitarist, Eric Lieberman, a long-time veteran of the local blues scene. Each one takes a solo on Pitchin' Up a Boogie" and "Honky Tonk," but there are no time-hogging prima donnas here. That's the true sign of a good jazz or blues band — each instrument is considered equally important to the whole composition. Although What a Day! doesn't contain any original material, it's worth listening to for the sheer talent and enthusiasm of this contemporary band.
- Jennifer DeGroot, Slamm Magazine
CD review: Blue Largo Featuring Alicia Aragon & Eric Lieberman, What a Day! Coffeegrinds Records
Versions, versions, versions!
Real nice version of "Five, Ten, Fifteen Hours," the old Ruth Brown hit.
Dandy version of Billie Holiday's "Fine and Mellow."
Fine-is-not-the-word version of "Sweet and Lovely."
Not-half-bad version of Bill Doggett's "Honky Tonk."
Not the worst version ever of T-Bone Walker's "Strollin' with Bone."
As swell a version as one could possibly expect of "You Came a Long Way from St. Louis," which Shel Silverstein used to claim HE wrote (though the credits here read: Brooks/Russell).
Fab-to-say-the-least version of Helen Humes's "Ain't Gonna Quit You Baby," not to be confused with Otis Rush's "Can't Quit You Baby."
Really decent version of "One for My Baby (and One More for the Road)."
All or many featuring the bang-up tenor sax of Jonny (don't spell it "Johnny") Viau.
- Richard Meltzer
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