"Hey Jack. Where y'at?"
Ivan has worked with many of the reknown figures in the world of Blues, backing a list of performers including James Thunderbird Davis, Nappy Brown, Earl King, Billy Boy Arnold, and toured and/or recorded with Bill Blue, Jumpin' Johnny and the Blues Party, Big Joe and the Dynaflows, the Nighthawks, Sugar Ray and the Bluetones, and L'il Ronnie and the Grand Dukes. 2011 saw the release of his first recording under his own name, Blue And Instrumental, on the EllerSoul label, garnering Ivan flattering reviews around the globe.
Not at all content to run from new challenges or afraid to pursue new musical and personal goals, Ivan has since 2015, been bringing his long-time love of acoustic fingertyle blues and ragtime guitar to the live stage, performing the musical stylings of Blind Blake, Rev Gary Davis, MS John Hurt, Big Bill Broonzy, Robert Johnson and those of the other greats and lesser knowns of the genre--a musical event featuring the early blues traditions of the Eastern Piedmont, the Mississippi Delta, and the cottonfields of the Deep South.
Ivan Appelrouth must be one of the best kept secrets in blues. He’s got everything you could hope for in a blues guitar player – style, chops, timing, phrasing, and an uncanny ability to capture the essence of the material. Blue And Instrumental on EllerSoul Records is his first disc as a bandleader, however he has been on the scene for thirty years, including time spent in the New England backyard of his mentor Duke Robillard. Appelrouth has since returned to his hometown of Richmond, VA and has made quite a name for himself in the Mid-Atlantic area.
The impetus for the album was an idea Ivan had to record some instrumentals for TV or movies and shop them around. The track “Magic’s Time” was actually used by All My Children and as the rest made their rounds, the idea materialized to complete an album. Apparently Ivan Appelrouth had reservations about the project but thankfully he overcame his recalcitrance and we have this wonderful set of blues to enjoy.
Ivan Appelrouth assembled a band consisting of previous band mates and fellow road dogs. The band is anchored by drummer “Big” Joe Maher of Washington, D.C. based Big Joe & The Dynaflows. The band is rounded out by a horn section, Steve Ott on Hammond B-3, John Cocuzzi on piano, and bassists Steve Potter and Tommy Hannigan. The guys recorded live in the studio over the course of two five-hour sessions and the spontaneity shines through on every track.
The disc is bookended by two different takes of “Olsen Ranch Shuffle.” This is a classic Elmore James style shuffle, right down to the sound of the instruments. It’s refreshing to hear this approach on a new album. The spirit is there, the sound is there and Appelrouth has the chops and sense of dynamics to pull it off perfectly. The fun groove of this shuffle is a great way to begin and end the disc. “Booky’s Boogie” brings to mind “Shake Your Moneymaker” and not surprisingly it’s a song for a woman, Ms. Olivia Dove Appelrouth. The Elmore James influence is all over this record and it’s heart-warming to know someone appreciates more of Elmore’s style than just the signature “Dust My Broom” lick. Appelrouth captures James’ elastic feel, phrasing and, oh, that sweet, sweet tone! I can clearly hear Elmore’s voice in my head as the band falls in behind Ivan and off they go.
Ivan Appelrouth also does a superb job of channeling Albert Collins on “Frosty” and T. Bone Walker on “T- Boned Again.” He pays tribute to the Kings of the blues on the slow-burning “Blues a la King” and to Magic Sam on the appropriately titled “Tribute To Magic Sam.” Ivan Appelrouth’s original compositions jump and swing with the best of them though and although this ad-hoc band never rehearsed the material, the love of the music is obvious in the performances, especially on the infectious “Drivin’ With Ivan” and the loping shuffle of “Uptown Downtown Groove.” The latter has the uptown horns over a juke joint rhythm that brings the various elements of the blues together under Appelrouth’s stinging guitar lines. The saxophone work on this and other tracks is sublime – Chris Watling is the secret weapon on this disc.
Blues instrumental albums can get repetitive pretty fast, especially if the tracks are used as an excuse to solo and show off the players’ knowledge of scales, but Ivan Appelrouth avoids that problem. His playing is melodic, with a vocal quality that keeps the songs interesting. The horns are also used to great effect, with Chris Watling’s wailing saxes and Dave Cwiklinski’s lively trumpet joining in to make the songs pop. The horns not only play a supporting role but get plenty of solo time as well. The album is full of classic tones and is permeated by nostalgia but the live recording and swinging feel of the music makes Blue And Instrumental one of the most enjoyable releases of 2011.
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Great Review for Ivan Appelrouth's Blue And Instrumental!
July 5, 2011 at 8:45pm
Ivan Appelrouth has been recording for some thirty years, spending time in the New England-area bands of Johnny Sansone, Li'l Ronnie, and Big Joe and the Dynaflows. His first full-length release as a bandleader is on EllerSoul Records and is entitled "Blue And Instrumental," and features Ivan's swingin' guitar and a hot horn and rhythm section comprised of friends and former band members. They turn on the good times and wail thru fifteen cuts of instrumental bliss that allows Ivan to explore the depths of his vast guitar knowledge, as well as to pay tribute to the guitar heroes that influenced him and shaped his career. There are four covers and eleven originals, and, with Ivan's keen sense of arranging, all are unique in their own way.
The set begins and closes with a slide-guitar romp, two takes of "Olsen Ranch Shuffle," With the interplay between Ivan and Chris Watling's sax, these cuts will remind astute listeners of the classic Fire and Fury sessions of Elmore James and J. T. Brown. "T-Boned Again" has the jazzy elements of the works of T-Bone Walker. John Cocuzzi adds piano to a slow blues tribute to Freddie King, "Blues A La King." There's a sweet take on the Iceman's "Frosty," and the "Tribute To Magic Sam" will make you feel as if you are sitting in a West Side club listening to Mr .Maghett in his prime.
Our favorite was easy to pick, too. We've always been fans of Mr. Acker Bilk's "Stranger On The Shore," and it is presented here with Ivan on muted guitar, Steve Utt on B-3, John Cocuzzi on vibe, and Big Joe Maher on the brush-stroked drums.
Ivan Appelrouth has some serious guitar chops, and he has put together quite an album that another one of his mentors, Duke Robillard, has encouraged all blues fans to "dig these hot tracks!!" That really sums it up for us, too, and we are sure "Blue And Instrumental" is one you'll enjoy!! Until next time....Sheryl and Don Crow. (Nashville Blues Society)
Ivan Appelrouth – Blue And Instrumental http://www.thebluesblast.com/bluesartists/ivanappelrouth.htm
15 tracks; 61.57 minutes
Ivan Appelrouth is a protégé of Duke Robillard and has been performing for some thirty years. He currently plays guitar with both Big Joe and the Dynaflows and Li’l Ronnie and the Grand Dukes. Like me, you may not have recognized his name, probably because this is his first recording as band leader. Originally the idea was to record some 50s style blues/Rn’B for potential use in film or TV soundtracks, but the recordings went so well that they held a second session and ended up with these 15, all instrumental tracks, recorded over a total time of just 10 hours in the studio.
The band here is an enlarged version of The Dynaflows with Big Joe Maher on drums and John Cocuzzi on piano throughout and Steve Potter sharing bass duties with Tommy Hannigan. Saxes and trumpet are added by Chris Watling and Dave Cwiklinski respectively and Hammond B3 by Steve Utt. Ivan plays all guitars. It is interesting to note that the band had never played these songs before the recording sessions and there is a spontaneous feel to the tracks and a real sense that the players were having a good time playing these charts.
The music is terrific throughout, most of the material being original yet naggingly familiar. That is because Ivan has composed material to honour his influences and we get tunes with titles like “Blues A La King”, “Tribute To Magic Sam”, “T-Boned Again”, etc. There are four actual covers: a superb version of Albert Collins’ “Frosty” has all the elements of Albert’s original, the horns playing ‘that’ riff and the guitar sounding very close to Albert’s style. Yet the very next track is “Strolling With Bone” and Ivan’s guitar hits the T-Bone style perfectly, the piano and horns backing him up brilliantly. “Junior Jumps” is a tune written by harp player James Montgomery incorporating some of his favorite Junior Wells harp licks. Here there is no harp, but a frenetic pace is maintained throughout, Ivan’s guitar playing the lead role in plucked style, hot piano and baying horns in support.
The only real oddity is the inclusion of Acker Bilk’s “Stranger On The Shore” which can certainly not be classed as blues. Originally a feature for clarinet, here pianist John Cocuzzi steps over to the vibes and is featured alongside the organ of Steve Utt on what is really a cocktail lounge piece. Perhaps this was one of the film/TV try outs, but for me, it sits uncomfortably with the rest of the album (despite Acker being a fellow Brit!).
Generally the album is upbeat and varied. Ivan deploys his slide style on the two takes of “Olsen Ranch Shuffle” that bookend the CD and also on “Booky’s Boogie”, a fast-paced boogie with driving drums and piano. The horn players perform excellently throughout, though there was clearly some overdubbing involved as on a tune like “Strollin’ Blues” both tenor and bari saxes can be clearly heard and I don’t think that Chris Watling played those two simultaneously!
Hard to pick favorites on this album, but if pressed I would select “The Twisted Top”, a short but sweet rocker, “T-Boned Again”, the aforementioned “Frosty” and the second version of “Olsen Ranch Shuffle” that closes the album. Overall I found this a very enjoyable CD for those who enjoy 50s style blues. If Duke Robillard floats your boat, try Ivan Appelrouth and I think you’ll enjoy the experience.
Reviewer John Mitchell is a blues enthusiast based in the UK. He also travels to the States most years to see live blues music.
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Ivan Appelrouth / Blue And Instrumental
Label: EllerSoul Records, 2011 Stil: Blues, R&B
ROCKTIMES Review vom 02.09.2011
Joachim 'Joe' Brookes © ROCKTIMES
»... dig these tracks, they're hot!« So äußert sich kein Geringer als Duke Robillard, Ivan Appelrouths Mentor. Nach nunmehr dreißig Jahren Blues-Business hat er mit "Blue And Instrumental" endlich sein Debüt-Album veröffentlicht und wie der Titel schon ausdrückt, handelt es sich bei den fünfzehn Tracks ausschließlich um Instrumentals.
Im Wesentlichen wird Ivan Appelrouth von Big Joe & The Dynaflows begleitet. Da wächst zusammen, was zusammen gehört. Appelrouth ist auch Gitarrist in der Combo und nur so kann man nachvollziehen, dass die vorliegende CD innerhalb von zwei Sessions, die jeweils fünf Stunden dauerten, aufgenommen wurde. Da muss man einfach schon gemeinsam gespielt haben. Zumal "Blue And Instrumental" elf Appelrouth-Eigenkompositionen enthält. Im Laufe seines Werdegangs war er ebenfalls bei Jumping Johnny Sansone & The Blues Party sowie Li'l Ronnie & The Grand Dukes. Dem nicht genug, kann er von sich sagen, dass er auch mit Earl King, James 'Thunderbird' Davis und Nappy Brown gespielt hat.
Gepaart mit den Coversongs serviert uns der Amerikaner aus Richmond eine sehr gelungene Reise durch den Blues und einige seiner Vorzeige-Musiker. Freddie King, T-Bone Walker, Magic Sam, Albert Collins oder Elmore James sind eindeutige Bezüge, zu denen Appelrouth in ganz persönlicher Art und Weise Stellung nimmt. Etwas außerhalb des Genres befindet er sich mit der Acker Bilk-Komposition "Stranger On The Shore".
Die insgesamt fünfzehn Titel gleiten geschmeidig dahin. Ivan Appelrouth lässt seine Gitarre singen und einige der Mitmusiker haben oftmals Gelegenheit, sich solistisch selber in Szene zu setzen. Bis auf die Rhythmusfraktion wird der Staffelstab reihum weitergereicht und richtig gut ist John Cocuzzi an den Tasten. Herrlich hört es sich an, wenn der Gitarrist mit dem Saxofonisten Chris Watling den einen oder anderen aussagekräftigen Smalltalk hält.
Auch wenn man lediglich zehn Stunden im Studio verbrachte, gibt es wohl nicht nur von "Olsen Ranch Shuffle" mehrere Mitschnitte. Diese Nummer liefert man uns als Buchstützen des Albums zweimal. Es geht gleich beim Opener mit dem Bottleneck in die Vollen. Slide-Gitarre sowie Saxofon hören wir in hinreißenden Soloauflagen und der Kontrabass passt herrlich ins musikalische Baumwollfeld. Der 'Take 3' glänzt ganz anders. Okay, die Linie der Melodieführung wird nicht verändert, aber bei den Alleingängen setzt man auf Variation. Das Kopf-an-Kopf- Rennen hat aus meiner Sicht keinen Sieger.
Die sanfte Romanzen-Ballade des aus Somerset stammenden Klarinettisten Acker Bilk baut man prächtig um. Was hören wir denn da plötzlich? Der am Piano famos aufspielende John Cocuzzi wechselt zum Vibrafon und damit gibt er dem Track eine sehr interessante Wendung. Danach macht es ihm Steve Utt an der Hammond gleich. Ui, das ist vielleicht eine Nummer!
Abgesehen von den vielen verschiedenen Blues-Mustern gibt es als Farbtupfer Ausflüge in den Jazz. Nach einem herrlichen "The Uptown Downtown Groove" kredenzt man uns direkt im Anschluss einen Jump Blues und dieses "Blues À La King" im gebremsten Tempo lässt einen dahinschmelzen. Wunderschön, wie Appelrouth zur flächendeckenden Bläserfraktion seine Finger über die Saiten gleiten lässt.
Nach dem ersten Durchgang mag man der Empfehlung des Appelrouth-Mentors Duke Robillard gerne folgen und der Scheibe weitere Spins gönnen. Der Hörer kommt voll auf seine Kosten, vorausgesetzt, er hat nichts gegen fünfundsechzig Minuten instrumentalen Blues. Aber das, was der Protagonist hier zu bieten hat, trifft definitiv auf Begeisterung. Der Gitarrist ist auf verschiedenen Sechssaitern mit einem facettenreichen Spiel gesegnet.
"Blue And Sentimental" lahmt nirgendwo und dieser Musiker ist eine echte Entdeckung. Die ohne Aufwärmen und live eingespielte Platte swingt, ist spontan, tadellos und richtig gut. Very well done, Ivan!
Ivan Appelrouth (guitar)
John Cocuzzi (piano, vibraphone)
Steve Utt (Hammond B-3)
Dave Cwiklinski (trumpet)
Chris Watling (tenor and baritone saxophones)
Tommy Hannigan (acoustic bass, electric bass)
Steve Potter (acoustic and electric bass - #2-5,8,10,12,13) 'Big' Joe Maher (drums)
01:Olsen Ranch Shuffle (Take 2) (5:08) 02:Blues À La King (5:34)
03:T-Boned Again (2:36)
04:Tribute To Magic Sam (4:04)
05:The Twisted Top (2:53)
07:Strolling With Bone* (2:48)
08:The Uptown Downtown Groove (4:23)
09:Junior Jumps* (2:35)
10:Magic's Time (5:50)
11:Booky's Boogie (3:16)
12:Strollin' Blues (3:51)
13:Drivin' With Ivan (5:46)
14:Stranger On The Shore* (4:44)
15:Olsen Ranch Shuffle (Take 3) (5:05)
(all songs composed and arranged by Ivan Appelrouth except as noted*)
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