Aint Gonna Be Your Dog

A wealth of new local blues CDs

On JEFFREY P. ROSS' My Pleasure, meanwhile, the songs seem to exist as a framework on which to hang solos. You may know him as just Jeff Ross, the genre-jumping guitarist who fired up the country licks with Rank and File, the second-generation Desert Rose Band and others; who played blues with Freddie Brooks; and has dished out stunningly good Django-style jazz with several local and Austin, Texas, outfits. My Pleasure is Ross' first solo outing, and unfortunately, it's a blues album. Ross is a great guitarist, with more nuance to his playing than most players even know exists, but like with most contemporary blues, much of this album sounds like he's sifting through the tailing heaps of a mined-out musical form.

If you've heard a whole lot of blues, My Pleasure may sound like pork for dessert after a nice pork, pork and more pork dinner. On the other hand, if you haven't heard a whole lot of the form, Ross' album wouldn't be a bad place to start. Listen to him squeeze out the notes on "Flim Flam" or the way he builds on Earl Hooker's lean, fluid style on "Wah Wah Blues." His lyrics on "Muddy Waters"—sung by Guy Forsyth—inject some daring sexual ambiguity into the Łbermanly blues landscape, with the sly spoonerism: "Listen to me baby/I ain't gonna be your dog/I'd rather sleep with Muddy Waters/Drink from a hollow log."

But compared to Ross' lively, expressive take on Django Reinhardt's "Blues Clair," much of the stock blues material surrounding it only sounds like a confining straitjacket on his playing.

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