Archive for the Big JAMES Category

Big JAMES & The Chicago Playboys – Right Here Right Now 2009

Posted in Big JAMES, BLUES on November 28, 2010 by whoisthemonk

Big JAMES & The Chicago Playboys – Right Here Right Now  2009


Big James and the Chicago Playboys are very much in the vein of Little Milton and the like. This is straight ahead Chicago soul/blues with lots of funk and soul. Phat horns and a richness and depth that is not easily achieved, this is the real deal through and through. One of the reasons I love blues as much as I do is the diversity of styles. Charley Patton and Big James can play back to back and the thread stays intact. Lead vocalist and trombone player, Big James Montgomery is a tremendous showman and bandleader and one great storyteller. This is music that will draw you close to that special someone and turn up the heat exponentially. This is as good as soul/blues gets…smooth, soulful and burning with passion. It feels good to know that someone is stepping up to perform this particular style. As the old guard continues to age gracefully, the young lions are learning their lessons well. James worked with Little Milton for two years, moved on to play with Albert King, Johnny Christian, Buddy Guy and more. This band has all the tools they need to get the job done…well, and are diverse enough to keep it interesting. From hardcore soul/blues, this band can slide effortlessly into straight-ahead Chicago blues. Not unlike fishing with multiple hooks, this band can hook you from any number of directions. One thing’s for sure…there’ll be no putting this band into a box. Give them a listen. Something here will catch your ear for sure.
By Bill Wilson.
Name one contemporary Blues band led and fronted by a trombone player. Right, Big James and the Chicago Playboys – that’s one. Can you think of any others? I can’t either. While I have stated previously that I am not a big fan of horns in Blues bands, Chicago’s premier R&B ensemble has found a way into my heart.

“Right Here Right Now” is their fifth album, and its major label release on Blind Pig is a well deserved step up reflecting their critical acclaim. Introducing newcomers to the Playboys’ unique horn-driven sound, the CD features seven James Montgomery original compositions as well as covers of Bobby Bland, Tyrone Davis, and the O’Jays.

Lead vocalist “Big James” Montgomery is a young man with a solid pedigree in the world of Rhythm & Blues. He played with Little Milton, Albert King, and Buddy Guy before fronting the Chicago Playboys. Drawing comparisons to James Brown’s former rhythm-intensive backing band, they have also backed Eric Clapton and Otis Rush. Having seen them live four times, I can testify that when big James and the Chicago Playboys take the stage, they are tighter than a gnat’s ass stretched over a rain barrel.

Guitar fans should fret not; Mike Wheeler plays plenty of burning leads and rhythm interspersed in the mix with his background vocals. The Chicago Playboys are further comprised of original member Charlie Kimble on saxophone, Joe Blocker – keyboards, Larry Williams – bass, Cleo Cole – drums, and Theresa Davis – backup vocals. Kenny Anderson’s highly sought after trumpet and co-arrangements are studio added. Montgomery’s nephew, Derrick “D-Mose” Moseberry adds a rap segment to “On the Grind.”

Having gained the attention aficionados, Big James and Chicago Playboys have won the Living Blues magazine annual Critics’ Poll for Most Outstanding Horns in 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008, and received award nominations in 2002, 2006 and 2008 for the Blues Foundation’s Blues Music Awards. In addition they won the 2008 Prix Blues from the Académie du Jazz for their last Jamot release, “Thank God I Got the Blues.”

Opening the set with the title track, The Playboys’ dynamic sound supplements Montgomery’s heart felt lyrics making a plea for humanity to do better, right here right now. The song displays the full band’s capabilities executing Montgomery’s and Anderson’s original horn arrangements supported by the rock solid drums and bass of Cleo Cole and Larry Williams, thoughtfully placed guitar work from Mike Wheeler, and rich keyboards from Joe Blocker. Big James’ vocals become nicely choral when Davis and Wheeler join in the background.
Other standout favorites include an ode to Mom Yvonne Montgomery “A Mama Like Mine,” a Chicago Blues testimonial “Worry,” the slow, emotional “Expect the Best” (but prepare yourself for the worst), and Wheeler’s scorching guitar runs in “I Love’em” in which Montgomery laments the untimely passing of Marvell Collins Woods and Vernon “Chico” Banks.

Horn lovers are obviously going to be in heaven with this release while Blues fans of all types will find something to like within. Find out what the critics have known since 2002, and then follow up this CD with Big James’ previous killer self release, “Thank God I Got the Blues” from 2007.
“Big James” Montgomery has played with Little Milton, Albert King, and Buddy Guy before becoming the trombonist and lead vocalist with the Chicago Playboys, the Windy City’s premier R&B ensemble. Right Here Right Now provides ample servings of The Playboys unique-horn-driven sound, which is a little R&B, a little jazzy funk and whole lotta soul. It features eight original compositions as well as covers of Bobby Bland, Tyrone Davis, and the O’Jays, all highlighted by precisely-executed horn arrangements and dynamic, soulful musicianship.

This was a nice change from the traditional blues standards. The horns were good, had that funky James Brown vibe. The Chicago Playboys sounded really tight. I had the chance to ask Big James about his influences, he said James Brown, Little Milton, Albert King, O.V. Wright and Bobby “Blue” Bland and a few more like Muddy, Buddy. Listening to this CD it’s easy to hear all these influences. Big James told me while he was in the studio he received a call that his last CD won “Best Blues Album of the Year” from the Academie of Jazz in Europe. His song “Thank God I Got The Blues” is in the movie “Cleaner” starring Samuel Jackson & Eva Mendes. This is going to be a good year Big James.
Peace and Love
Peter ‘Cornbread’ Cohen.
Big James- (Trombone, Vocals)
Kenny Anderson- (Trumpet)
Charlie Kimble- (Saxophone)
Joe Blocker- (Keyboards)
Derrick “D-Mose” Moseberry- (Vocals)
Theresa Davis- (Background Vocals),
Mike Wheeler (Guitar, Background Vocals)
Larry Andrew Williams- (Bass)
Cleo Cole- (Drums)
01. Right Here Right Now 4:27
02. A Mama Like Mine 4:39
03. Love To See You Smile 4:04
04. On The Grind 3:40
05. Expect The Best 4:21
06. I Love ‘Em 3:57
07. A Little Attention 4:37
08. The Goose 3:16
09. Help (Somebody Please) 5:00
10. Without You In My Life 3:26
11. Worry 5:37

Continue reading


Big James and The Chicago Playboys – Thank God I Got The Blues 2007

Posted in Big JAMES, BLUES on November 15, 2010 by whoisthemonk

Big James and The Chicago Playboys – Thank God I Got The Blues 2007


Chicago Blues/Soul at it’s finest. If you like Luther Allison, Little Milton, Tyrone Davis, Albert King, James Brown don’t look any further.
Big James Montgomery grew up in the ghetto of Chicago, where as all the kids
he listened to black music of the moment, thrust vehemently by groups
like the famous Funkadelic George Clinton, Ohio Players, Kool & the Gang …
After trying the guitar he realizes he is attracted by the brass
and began to listen to jazz trombonists. That harmonica Billy Branch
which he sets foot in the door with an invitation to join regularly Sons Of Blues
with his trombone. At 19 he joined the side of Little Milton before joining
tour of the Chitlin ‘circuit with Albert King and Buddy Guy.
James at 88 joined the band of singer Little Johnny Christian to death
of the latter: the Chicago Playboys, the house band’s Checkerboard Lounge.
He will have the opportunity to accompany all that Chicago has the blues
and blues women: Junior Wells, Koko Taylor, Little Smokey Smothers
and many more . During a jam session, he began singing as a result of a bet
with a friend. The circle is complete. It is then noticed by guitarist
most respected Chicago: Otis Rush, who hired him. But it’s Buddy Guy
it will inform the larger world stage.
Today, Big James & the Chicago Playboys is one of the leading training
Chicago blues: James Montgomery on trombone and vocals, Charlie Kimble
on saxophone, Michael Wheeler on guitar, keyboards Joe Blocker,
Melvin Smith on bass, and Cleo Cole on drums.
To date Big James and his Chicago Playboys recorded 4 albums
for Jamot Records:”If It Was not 4 Da Blues,*Funky Blues,*Now You Know*
and excellent *Thank God I Got The Blues.* Their music is a mixture
Deep blues and urban soul of the Chitlin ‘circuit and unbridled funk.
They give honor to the brass in blues and shows that the power
of it is not just volume of the guitar amp and that mixing
blues and funk they hand to honor the blues in contemporary black music.
But the best argument is this: on stage, as it moves ever.
You’ve been warned.
Blues often suffers from too much of the same old sound. But, Big James is
different from today’s blues re-hash. The Chicago-based singer,
songwriter,producer, and trombone player was heavily influenced by the late
Little Milton Campbell. Big James’s voice is as big as his girth. He combines
blues, soul, R&B & funk in his horn-drenched music. His music is strongly
influenced by James Brown, Little Milton, O.V. Wright, Albert King, Luther
Allison, Bobby “Blue” Bland, Prince, & P-Funk. They take the music where it
hasn’t been. Big James has shared the stage with some of the biggest names
in the Blues industry. He has played with Little Milton, Albert King, Otis Rush,
& Rock & Roll Hall-of-Famer Blues God Buddy Guy!! He has also shared the
stage with Eric Clapton, George Clinton & Parliament/Funkadelic, Lou Rawls,
Dan Ackroyd, Koko Taylor, Larry Coryell, Derek Trucks, & many others. He
has also performed on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. Big James is a 3-time
winner of the Living Blues Magazine’s Critic’s Choice Award for Most
Outstanding Horn Player in the Blues Industry!!! He was recently nominated
for an American Blues Award formerly(W.C. Handy Award). Big James has
just returned from his annual trip to Europe, opening for B.B. King at the
Vienne Jazz Festival, and also in Monte Carlo, Monaco. The title track from his
latest cd Thank God I Got The Blues can be heard in the upcoming movie
“Cleaner” starring, Samuel Jackson, Eva Mendes, Ed Harris & Luis Guzman.
Big James’s music is delivered with a passion & conviction that cannot be
faked!!!! Check out the genius of Chicao’s own Big James!!!
01. Thank God I Got the Blues 4:47
02. I’m Done This Time 6:17
03. Don’t Take Your Coat Off. 5:12
04. Make It Do What It Do 5:09
05. In the Wrong 4:48
06. Awesome 3:44
07. Forever and Ever 4:18
08. Trying to Live My Life Without You 4:14
09. Walkin’ the Back Streets 6:48
10. Last Heart 3:37
11. What a Coincidence 5:50
12. No Mo 5:11 $0.99
13. What It Is.. 5:38
14. Lts Blues 3:14

Continue reading