Purple Pyramid 2019
Giving the rhythm everything he’s got, Canadian guitar slinger is transported in the golden age of big bands to get his rocks off.
If “Boom Boom (Out Go The Lights)” didn’t really evoke the patina of juke joints and the pre-war gangsters paradise, Pat Travers never needed to don a zoot suit to express his love for jazz: those who listened closely to his solos could discern the traces of this genre. Still, an entire album of standards – the 31-minute essence of the era – is rather unexpected epistle from the past, the pieces that have long become part of collective conscious allowing the veteran freedom to let rip and play in his own manner. The result brings out rock in familiar cuts, because the respect Pat must feel for classic material would hardly get in the way of taking it to the present.
Be it Glenn Miller’s “In The Mood” or Louis Prima’s “Sing Sing Sing” which opens the record, there are lava-hot licks peeled from Travers’ guitar with so much greased-up gusto so a bout of toe-tapping is guaranteed, especially when he’s off on a tangent for an improv, while turning a number’s main theme into sharp riff. Pat has no qualms about adding slabs of brass to Duke’s “Take The ‘A’ Train” or following in Dorsey’s wake on “Opus One” and stepping aside when the bluesy tracks dictate so, only to shoot short flurries of notes when the spotlight returns his fretboard again, rendering the likes of “Apple Honey” irresistibly fresh. Forget the flashbacks of "Retro Rocket"; the context is new this time around.
Mostly instrumental, the album’s two vocal showcases – “Let The Good Times Roll” and “Is You Is Or Is You Ain’t My Baby” – are deliciously down-to-earth, though, the artist’s roar complementing the heavy edge of Travers’ trio’s groove, whereas their drift through a piano-splashed “Tenderly” feels immensely sensual. Pat tackled other people’s compositions before, but those rarely revealed such depth. His “Swing!” got that thing.