Review: Bluestate

Date: 05.10.2005
Publication: Barnes & Noble
Author: Ted Panken


At 30, Doug Wamble is a quadruple threat: accomplished singer-songwriter, eclectic composer, killer guitarist, and heady improviser. His second album, Bluestate, illuminates the broad well of influence from which he draws. Building on Country Libations, his 2003 debut, the Memphis-born Wamble, whose resume includes gigs with Cassandra Wilson, Madeleine Peyroux, the Millennial Territory Orchestra, and Wynton Marsalis, references a heap of southern roots vernaculars — urban and rural blues, gospel, country, bluegrass — and the complex threads that comprise the vocabulary of modern jazz expression.

Deploying a big, percussive, vibrato-laden guitar sound and an urgent, malleable tenor that he phrases with instrumental suppleness, he creates a tonal personality as informed by the primal as by the abstract. The repertoire comprises six Wamble originals, a Monk-like line by the fine pianist Roy Dunlap, a kaleidoscopic Wamble arrangement of “Rockin’ Jerusalem” on which producer Branford Marsalis produces a shades-of-Coltrane solo, and well-wrought interpretations of Peter Gabriel’s “Washing of the Water” and Stevie Wonder’s “Have a Talk with God.” Wamble flatters himself a touch in describing his sound as “Robert Johnson meets Ornette Coleman,” but he has a big talent, and the phrase will serve.

Submitted by Ben on May 10th, 2005 — 12:00am