Canada’s Jeff Healey was an especially talented musician who passed away in 2008. Although Jeff became blind at a very early age he became an electrifying and fiery guitarist (he played with the guitar stretched flat across his lap) as well as mastering both trumpet and clarinet. Healey first came to radio attention via the rock-blues avenue (remember Angel Eyes ?)but he eventually became dissatisfied with the limitations of being restricted to one genre and in recent years did an about face to devote his full on attention to his first true love – jazz.
Jeff Healey used to have a highly regarded jazz radio show on the CBC here in Canada and was an avid vinyl collector, boasting nearly 30,000 records – Louis Armstrong was a particular hero. I love the fact that he was so excited about this collection and enjoyed spending hours fueling his hobby.
With the recent release of Last Call which is a highly charged, full-on vintage jazz album (it’s very easy to listen to, strongly melodic and at times both poignant and playful) this is the ultimate dinner party album or ideal for the serious listener on a Sunday morning whilst sloping about with eggs and strong French coffee …
Interestingly, Jeff plays both guitar and trumpet on this cd and manages to do both at the same time thanks to the wonders of overdubbing! I’ve reviewed Jeff Healey before and I’ve always maintained that his vocal talent did not get the recognition it so deserved. His singing is so tender and sad in songs like Laura and the wonderful Time On My Hands that it’s painful at times. There’s also a good selection of rollicking, rhythm-driven pieces here like You Can’t Pull the Wool Over My Eyes to lift the spirits high.
For all you jazz purists out there – you know who you are – I have to counsel that there is a distinct possibility that you’d find Jeff’s cd a bit TOO frothy, in fact; certainly, there is nothing wildly innovative or experimental here and some of the songs are just that – old familiar tunes played well by someone who loved playing them.
But this remains a very solid listen all round and Jeff’s enthusiasm for jazz is contagious. I like the positive spin that the liner notes suggest by taking the position that this cd represents not the final cd from Jeff, but rather, showcases the “real” Jeff Healey. I couldn’t agree more.
As always, click on the "play" button underneath to sneak a few sample listens. And let me know what you think! Cheers.
* Editor’s note: In the interest of full disclosure, I received this CD free of charge from the record company.