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February 13, 2006

CD Review R&B ‘Salmon Armenians’

Written by
cindy mcleod

CD Review
Salmon Armenians
Swimmin’ Upstream

Covering familiar favourites with some new twists, B.C.’s Salmon Armenians have released ‘Swimmin’ Upstream’, their CD of R&B, Blues and good old Rock n’ Roll. This octet delivers straight from the heart with a clean, tight sound, great harmonies, and fat horn section.

Band members Willy Ward (trumpet, lead vocal), Mike Hilliard (guitar, vocal), Murray Holmes (bass, vocal), Larry Keats (drums), Lody Kieken (Hammond organ, keyboards, vocal), Rich Thorne (trombone, percussion, vocal), Doug Sonju (alto/tenor saxes), and Mike Scharf (tenor/baritone saxes), generate high-octane energy with their downright funky music.

The eleven tracks cover a wide range of classics, with the group placing their own unique spin on them. The opening track gives a nod to fellow B.C. artists Powder Blues, with this driving version of ‘Boppin With The Blues’ showcasing the fluent horn section as they play unison lines and harmonies against the vocal. Wayne Carson’s hit ‘The Letter’, first made popular by the Box Tops (and later covered by Joe Cocker) sees vocalist Ward sounding eerily like David Clayton Thomas, and kicking things up a notch with his fine trumpet solo. Delbert McLinton’s ‘Givin’ It Up For Your Love’ features the signature vocal harmonies that distinguish the group, and captures McLinton’s southern feel to a tee. ‘Try a Little Tenderness’, Otis Redding’s hit made famous by Ray Charles, starts with a great vocal intro, going on to create a sound somewhat reminiscent of the sixties superstars Dave Clark V. Of note is guitarist Mike Hilliard’s original composition ‘All That Love’, with its strong melody being gently supported by his clean acoustic guitar and Kieken’s B3 wash.

‘Swimmin’ Upstream’ is bound to have the phone ringing off the wall for the Salmon Armenians, with mountains of offers to enliven events with their soulful sound. Familiar is good, especially when offered by a highly listenable octet turning up the heat, and Salmon Armenians definitely deliver.

For information email acorn101@jetstream.net

Cindy McLeod
www.jazzelements.com

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