When The Jitterbug Bites
Joe Turley is a multi-talented musician, deftly handling piano,
Alto sax, and harmonica with frightening ease. And his new
release, When the Jitterbug Bites, more than serves
as a vehicle for his many talents.
take note: this is not a straight-ahead swing or jump blues
album, nor is it meant to be. Turley and his band specialize
in blending diverse styles such as funk, rock, blues, western
swing, and Latin sounds into the swing-jump soup, and the
results are fun to hear.
rhythm and horn arrangements abound on the first tune, "Ging
Ginga Ding," along with harmonized guitar lines almost reminiscent
of the doubled guitar parts in Steely Dan's "Bodhisattva."
This device is also used well on "Like-i-Doo," a barn-burner
of a tune that'll leave you winded. On other numbers, rootsy
elements such as harmonica, slide guitar and Hawaiian lap
steel guitar are used to great effect. His players are damn
fine too. Jim Williamson's majestic trumpet work is lovely
on "Sea of Miracles," as is the lap steel playing of Moose
delighfully schmaltzy "Tango Mi Corazon" sounds like a knife
fight on the streets of Rio, and John England's apocalyptic
electric guitar solo made me think of Marc Ribot dressed as
a matador. But, swingheads, have no fear: A few tunes, such
as "Sittin' On Santa's Knee," are well suited to an easy spin
around the floor.
times the songwriting seems a little hokey lyric-wise, but
Joe has a certain charm and affability as a singer, an elusively
friendly quality that's impossible to "put on." His uncanny
ability to mix styles one thinks would never jell often works
wonders, and his vision is carried out by a wildly talented
group of musicians. When the Jitterbug Bites is a fun listen,
with lots of kooky surprises.