Heritage Music Orchestra: And Still I Rise Review

And Still I Rise, the debut album from the Heritage Blues Orchestra, set to be released on February 28, takes the listener on a musical journey that encompasses the history of the blues. As the listener journeys from work songs in the field to a small country church, to the back porch of a small southern home, to a blues club in the city, he finds himself enraptured by the beauty, tastefulness, delicacy and simple sophistication that is the blues.

Mystified and intrigued by the beautiful, haunting voice of Chaney Sims, the eerily human cry of Junior Mack and Bill Sims Jr.’s guitars and unbelievable horn arrangements by tenor saxophonist Bruno Wilhelm that kiss the album, the listener wonders if there is something beyond music in this album. Indeed, there is. For not only is this album full of stunning music, but also an expressive sense of history that sheds light onto the rich and beautiful culture of the blues, and, in particular African-American music.

The album begins with an excellent rendition of Son House’s tune, “Clarksdale Moan” and continues with a medley of work songs, traditional folk tunes, and blues standards, before coming to a close with a bewitching, three movement rendition of “Hard Times,” which features a call and response section, a gorgeous horn soli and a funky blues jam that ends with an outstanding sax solo by Wilhelm.

This album is the definition of the blues. From traditional call and response, to roadhouse shuffles to postmodern jazz, this album encompasses all the sounds that make up the blues, past and present. While the group pays homage to the past, they have a uniquely modern sound that will give them their own page in blues history.

The Review: 9/10

Can’t Miss Tracks

– Catfish Blues
– Go Down Hannah
– Chilly Jordan
– Hard Times

The Big Hit

– Chilly Jordan

Review by Nik Rodewald

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