'Son of a Bluesman' boasts great voice, style in new CD

| Saturday, Aug. 2, 2014, 8:12 p.m.

‘The Son of a Bluesman'

Lucky Peterson (Jazz Village)

Regardless of the role of genetics, Lucky Peterson is one convincing bluesman. “The Son of a Bluesman” lets him sing and play guitar and organ on a collection of 11 tunes that range from originals to covers of “Funky Broadway” by Wilson Pickett and Johnny Nash's “I Can See Clearly Now.” The performer is the son of Buffalo blues star and club owner James Peterson, but the success of the album is a Lucky happening. He has a powerful voice and convincing style that give life to material such as “Boogie Woogie Blues Joint Party” and “Blues in My Blood,” a song he should have written because of the way it deals with music being handed down.

One of the best offerings is “I'm Still Here,” a song that deals with the ability to survive the tests of life. Most of the songs are of Peterson singing in a quartet with guitar, bass and drums, but two have a horn section and three a small group of background singers.

— Bob Karlovits

‘Enjoy the View'

Bobby Hutcherson, David Sanborn, Joey DeFrancesco, Billy Hart (Blue Note)

The four stars on this album draw listeners from a variety of directions. But the combination might not be as effective. “Enjoy the View” combines the funky Hammond B-3 work of Joey DeFrancesco and the bluesy sound of alto saxophonist David Sanborn with the vibes of Bobby Hutcherson and drums of Billy Hart, two stars whose best work is in more traditional fare. The merger seems a bit forced.

For instance, DeFrancesco's “Don Is” starts off with a loud thematic statement from Sanborn and a vocal shout from a member of the quartet — probably the organist. It is followed by a mellow vibes solo that sounds like it belongs elsewhere. Hutcherson's “Montara” is dominated by Sanborn's saxophone, when it seems to call for the sound of the vibes. The one positive side of the album is that all of the tracks are originals, which points to the group's creativity. Otherwise, this jam-session-like get together doesn't work.

— Bob Karlovits

‘Hypnotic Eye'

Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers (Reprise)

Tom Petty's 13th album with his perennially underrated back-up band is being hyped as a jolt of energy in comparison with “Mojo,” the 63-year-old straw-haired rocker's bluesy, often rambling set in 2010 with the Heartbreakers. That's accurate enough: “Hypnotic Eye” delivers welcome Petty snarl and always impeccable Mike Campbell guitar work.

Without getting too heavy-handed, there's also a fair share of sociopolitical commentary, from the shuddering “Power Drunk,” which examines police corruption, to “Playing Dumb,” a vinyl-only hidden track that assails the Catholic Church over sexual-abuse transgressions. It's a vital-sounding collection for sure, with concise songs that'll hold their own when heard amid the prodigious catalog TP & the HBs will pull from when they perform live. And if only a handful — the geological metaphor “Fault Lines,” the heavy riffing “All You Can Carry,” the psych-rock celebration “U Get Me High” — are likely to stand up over the long haul, that's still a pretty impressive batting average at this late stage.

— The Philadelphia Inquirer

‘The Breeze: An Appreciation of JJ Cale'

Eric Clapton & Friends (Surfdog)

Eric Clapton calls his new album of J.J. Cale songs an appreciation rather than a tribute, and that word choice gets at the appealingly modest vibe of this record.

In spite of cameos by heavy-hitting guitar guys like Tom Petty, Mark Knopfler and John Mayer, “The Breeze: An Appreciation of JJ Cale” — which honors the roots-music cult hero who died a year ago — dispenses with the grandstanding that bogs down most tribute albums; it sounds more like the product of an impromptu jam session.

Clapton opens this disc with “Call Me the Breeze,” which Lynyrd Skynyrd turned into a hit. But he otherwise sidesteps Cale's best-known songs, focusing instead on gems such as the taut, funky “Rock and Roll Records” and the delicate “Magnolia,” with a beautifully understated vocal by Mayer.

Willie Nelson turns up for a pair of acoustic country tunes, “Songbird” and “Starbound,” while Knopfler's singing in “Someday” demonstrates how much he was pulling from Cale in Dire Straits. And Clapton and Mayer keep their soloing to a tasteful minimum in “Don't Wait,” which fades out after a quick 2 12 minutes.

Does it sound like I'm congratulating a bunch of rock stars simply for restraining themselves? I suppose I am. But like Cale's unique charm, that's a rare occurrence worth celebrating.

— Los Angeles Times

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