BIG JOE MAHER & JEFF SARLI with BIG BLUE:
Do you dig mellow '60s rhythm and blues grooves like Percy Mayfield or T-Bone? If so, Big Joe and his band will be right up your alley. Joe's a natural-born blues singer, as irresistibly laid back as Albert King. The band's got that Hammond organ groove down. The two saxes are raunchy and raw; the electric guitar moans and wails. Stereophile says "...such a cool disc...equal parts barrel-house jump-band and smooth swing...big, big sound." Highly recommended as one of the best-sounding blues/R&B discs ever, according to blues star Bob Margolin. (#02352)
I'm excited that the relatively esoteric worlds of high-end audio recording and blues are meeting and getting along so well...you can enjoy the efforts of some of the "audiophile purist" releases that are starting to show up in the blues world. They sound beautiful and real on all but the cheapest boom-box or car stereo. One album that particularly impressed me recently is Mojo (Wildchild!/Mapleshade 02352) by Big Joe Maher and Jeff Sarli and Big Blue, a powerful performance recorded with stunning clarity and space. It's a feast for the soul, and candy for the ears.
Mojo is such a cool disc, I can't stand it. Big Joe, a drummer and singer, and Jeff Sarli, a swingin' string-bass player, have put together a band that's equal parts barrel-house jump-band and smooth swing band. The result will get you up off your butt „ if you've still got a pulse, that is. And bottom? Man, does this disc got bottom! Drive and air „ you can hear the walls bulging as they try to contain this big, big sound „ with a fat-back bottom. Did I mention that? This one may not grow hair (didn't on me anyway), but it'll definitely trim 10 years off your age.
The Washington Post :
WHADAYA KNOW? Big Joe in slo-mo. Big Joe Maher, that is. On his new release, Mojo, the area drummer best known for leading the Dynaflows and shouting out electric blues and jump tunes takes a decidedly more relaxed view of the blues. Listening to the opening (and title) track for a few seconds is all it takes to confirm that this session's atmosphere and pacing has more to do with Percy Mayfield's laconic balladry than Big Joe Turner's barroom barking.
As it turns out, songs by both Mayfield and Turner are on the album, along with tunes by Charlie Rich, Ray Charles and Floyd Dixon, and in each case Maher handles them in an easy, soulful stride. T-Bone Walker's riff-based Ponytail and the Duke Ellington sax-and-organ-powered instrumental Wings ïN Things help enliven things, but some of the album's best moments come when the mood is mellow, the music spare and Maher is quietly tending to his battered heart on Rich's Who Will The Next Fool Be? and Walker's In The Dark.
Bassist and producer Jeff Sarli is responsible for the album's uncluttered, understated charm. (Maher's longtime rhythm section partner Sarli conceived the project and enjoys costar status.) Sarli has assembled a strong cast that includes keyboardists Bob Willoughby and Phil Stancil, guitarist Rusty Bogard and saxophonists Chris Watling and Jerry Queene.
December 23, 1994