Reviews

Jumpin’ & Boppin’, vocalist and keyboardist Kenny “Blues Boss” Wayne’s third recording for Stony Plain, pays homage to the late 1940s / early 1950s originators of rhythm and blues, including Louis Jordan, Amos Milburn, Ray Charles, Johnnie Johnson and Fats Domino, which, of course, means that this is good-time music. Twelve of the tracks are

Front Cover 2016

Wayne’s original compositions, and they testify to how adept he has become in the jump blues idiom, sounding like they would be right at home on a juke box during the early days of R&B. He serves up one cover, the Ray Charles–associated You Don’t Know Me (written by Cindy Walker and Eddy Arnold).

Along with Wayne’s outstanding piano work and good-humored, soulful vocals, the sessions benefit from first-rate contributions from the rhythm section that consists of bassist Russell Jackson, drummer Joey DiMarco and guitarist Charlie Jacobson. Guitarist Duke Robillard and tenor/baritone saxophonist Dave Babcock both know what it takes topropel this music, and their solos really stoke the fire. This is apparent on the opening instrumental, Blues Boss Shuffle, which features smoking piano, tenor and guitar solos, and from that pointon, there is no looking back. Blackmail Blues is a standout with the rhythm section laying down a hip, strutting groove marked by Wayne’s churchy organ fills. On the up-tempo Rock, Rock Little Girl, Wayne evokes Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis as he frantically pounds the 88s. Sherman Doucette’s riffing harmonica and blues-smeared solos drive the relentless boogie groove on I’m Coming Home. The slow blues Back to Square One evokes the legendary Charles Brown, featuring funky, double-tracked piano/organ interplay and a tasty solo from Robillard. The set closes with the ebullient boogie-woogie piano/bass/drums instrumental Boogie to Gloryland, providing Wayne with a showcase for his formidable chops. Anyone looking for a soundtrack to keep a party rocking should just slip this disc in and let it play. It is guaranteed to get the house Jumpin’ & Boppin’.—Robert H. Cataliotti/Living Blues Magazine

Wayne is like a modern day version of Fats Domino, with his colorful suits, big smile piano chops. This cat can pound those keys as evidenced by Living Blues magazine awarding him the 2015 Most Outstanding Musician on keyboards. As the title suggests, this is joyous music that puts a contemporary spin on those classic styles that now go back sixty or seventy years.– Jim Hynes – Elmore Magazine

Wayne is a boogie-woogie master, and his vocals are sly, assured and just plain likeable; there’s an easygoing elegance to his delivery that matches his stylish presentation perfectly. John Taylor – blogcritic.doc

Jumpin’ and Boppin’ on Stony Plains Records) – The Blues is cool under the guidance of Kenny ‘Blues Boss’ Wayne as he steers with ten fingers riding over eighty-eight keys of ivory. Kenny puts the piano back into a major Blues role, earning himself the title ‘Gentleman of Boogie Woogie’. Style defines the man and his music on Jumpin’ and Boppin’, the latest Stony Plains Records release from Kenny ‘Blues Boss’ Wayne, as he pumps out his resume on “Jumpin’ and Boppin’ with Joy”.

ON THE RADAR REVIEW

Jumpin’ & Boppin’

I have seen Kenny “Blues Boss” Wayne and listened to more than one of his recordings.  I honestly enjoyed what I heard…but to be honest, this time through, he nails it big time.  Jumpin’ & Boppin’ was a complete surprise.  This album has an intensity and a level of swing that was reminiscent of Louis Jordan, Amos Milburn, Johnnie Johnson and more.  This album has all the vintage sound and ambiance of the masters of boogie-woogie and jump blues.  If that is your thing, this is one piece you will not want to pass up.  What really got my attention was that, with the exception of “You Don’t Know Me,” all the songs were written by Kenny Wayne.  This one is so good that it will be included in my top picks for the year.  The “Blues Boss” is in top form, the band is tight as bands get and the recording is immaculate.  Before you put this album on, buy a new pair of dancin’ shoes…you’ll burn through the first pair fairly quickly.  Seldom does an album leave me at a loss for words but, in this case, all I can say is “Wow!”  This is top shelf, start to finish.  From hard-drivin’ jump tunes to slow-burning ballads that are hot enough to melt the soles of your shoes, this album covers it all…and does it incredibly well.  This one’s a keeper. – Bill Wilson/Reflections in Blue

JUMPIN’ & BOPPIN’ Kenny ‘Blues Boss’ Wayne (Stony Plain)

This is the 3rd album for Stony Plain and 10th overall by 2015’s “Most Outstanding Musician” for keyboards by Living Blues magazine. It’s joyful jump blues collection that makes it impossible to just sit and listen.

If ever there was an album of party blues in 2016 this is it, and Kenny ‘Blues Boss’ Wayne is the guy that can show you a good time.  There’s slow and sultry blues and Kenny shows you how that’s done on a heart-stopping version of Ray Charles’s You Don’t Know Me, but the spirit of this disc is too up, too good natured to be denied.

Jumpin’ & Boppin’ is aptly titled for its positive, upbeat let’s go get ‘em drive and appeal.  It’s a commonly held misconception that the blues is downer music, something to wallow in when you’re feeling low.  If you know someone that feels that way, put this disc on for them, then sit back and watch their smiling faces as those toes start to tap.  If anything, this is the ultimate feel-good music- enjoy!

ESSENTIALS:  Blues Stew, You Don’t Know Me, Back To Square One

Rock Doctor Album Review – May 29,2016

Jumpin’ & Boppin’

Stony Plain Records

Kenneth Wayne Spruell a.k.a. Kenny “Blues Boss” Wayne was born in Spokane, Washington in 1944. He is a blues and boogie-woogie pianist, singer and songwriter. Wayne recorded his debut album “Blues Boss Boogie” in 1988. Wayne won a Juno award, the Canadian equivalent of our Blues Music Awards, in 2006 for “Let It Loose” on The Electro-Fi Records label. In 2011 he signed with Stony Plain Records and released 2011’s “An Old Rock on a Roll”. He followed up in 2014 with “Rollin’ with the Blues Boss”. This is Wayne’s third album for Stony Plain and tenth overall.  Besides being a great keyboard player Waynehas a soulful voice. His clarity and easiness make him extremely enjoyable especially on “Blues Stew”. His vocal style reminds me of Charles Brown. – Makin’ A Scene

COVER STORY – FEB 2017
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Submitted by Sandy Graham
Biography Credit: Sarah French Publicity

Hailed as “an artist bringing the piano back to the front ranks of contemporary blues,” multiple-award winning blues, boogie-woogie and jazz pianist Kenny ‘Blues Boss’ Wayne is called “Blues Boss” for a reason. His musical career began as a child prodigy in the 1960s and has continued to flourish for over 50 years with Wayne at the forefront of modern day blues piano practitioners.

Born in Spokane, Washington, raised in New Orleans and now based in British Columbia, Kenny ‘Blues Boss’ Wayne has built a stellar reputation within Canada and abroad for his lively attire and energetic concert performances. The zoot suited Wayne will be returning to Russia, South America, and Europe later in 2016, where he regularly sells out 800 to 1000 seat venues and headlines many international concerts and festivals.

Kenny ‘Blues Boss’ Wayne released his first solo album Alive & Loose, which featured Shuggie Otis, on Andy Griggs’ Real Blues Records in 1995. It marked the start of Wayne’s blues journey and was followed by four albums for Canadian label Electro-Fi Records:88th & Jump Street, JUNO Award winningLet It Loose, Can’t Stop Now and the live recording Piano-Rama. Wayne also recorded in Paris for Isabel Records at the same studio that Memphis Slim frequently recorded. Since joining Stony Plain Records in 2011, Wayne has released An Old Rock On A Roll, which earned him a Blues Foundation nomination for the Pinetop Perkins Piano Award, and Rollin’ with the Blues Boss.

Jumpin’ and Boppin’ is his third recording on Stony Plain Records. “While I’m making this wonderful journey through life and having the opportunity to record my own songs, I try to make every recording better than the last,” says Wayne. “This most likely won’t be my last but I am very proud to present this recording to the world and hope that you enjoy it as much as I did writing, recording and producing this album.”

Executive Producer Holger Petersen (also owner of Stony Plain Records) had this to say, “Working with Kenny on ‘Jumpin’ & Boppin’ was a complete joy. He is a master of many piano styles, a great songwriter and tireless in the studio. It’s been rewarding to see Kenny acknowledged as one of best at what he does and to see ‘Jumpin’ & Boppin’ reach #1 on the US Living Blues Radio Chart.”

Kenny Wayne held the reins as Producer of this gem of a CD and capture the feeling he did. “Jumpin’ and Boppin’ CD by far was the most enjoyable recording in my career. I was able to capture the jump blues sounds of “Louis Jordan” the soulful “Ray Charles” the jazzy blues of Amos Milburn and the 1940’s style boogie woogie like “Pete Johnson, Albert Ammons & Meade Lux Lewis”.

A throw-back to classic, rollicking blues of yesteryear, Jumpin’ and Boppin’ is firmly rooted in the jump blues style of Louis Jordan and Amos Milburn. It could have easily been made in the 1950s, which is a further testament to Wayne’s immense talents, staying power and stature as one of the genre’s foremost blues/boogie-woogie pianists.

Special guest Duke Robillard is the perfect guitarist and Russell Jackson, B.B. King’s long-time bassist, locks in the rhythm section, alongside Charlie Jacobson, Joey DiMarco, Sherman Doucette & Dave Babcock who contributed their talents to this recording as well. There are many highlights among the 13 tracks on the album including the opening instrumental “Blues Boss Shuffle.” Featuring Wayne’s deft piano playing and Duke Robillard’s sublime soloing, it is the perfect introduction to the vibe of the album.

Kenny 'Blues Boss' WayneKenny ‘Blues Boss’ Wayne

“Bankrupted Blues” has the smooth vocals and horns reminiscent of Louis Prima, while “Jumpin’ & Boppin’ With Joy” is just that – a great happy tune custom written for jivers and lindy hoppers.

“Blues Stew” is a cleverly written tune that is a throwback to the early blues and big band sound that has so influenced this artist.

“You Don’t Know Me” (a Cindy Walker tune) was a hit for Eddy Arnold in 1955 but the classic was Ray Charles’ version. Wayne knocks this one out of the park with his heartfelt rendition, showing his style can also capture ballads just as well as boogie woogie.

“Blackmail Blues” has the Mac Rebennack (Dr.John) style to his playing (with the ‘spider effect fingers ‘) a style that such a Louisiana trademark.

“Look Out – There’s A Train Coming” shows the influence of Louis Jordan and his Tympany Five similar to Choo Choo, Ch’boogie – great arrangement!

“I Need Your Lovin'” is more rock ‘n’ roll/blues than boogie woogie, highlighting the sound of organ mixed with great keys, once again showing off this guy’s incredible talent.

“Ciao, Ciao Baby” shows Kenny Wayne’s love for the 1940’s style of performers like Luis Prima and his famous ‘Banana Split For My Baby.’ Love this tune!

“Back to Square One” makes you feel like you are a jazzy, smokey bar, listening to the mournful sound of the band, while you nurse your drink and sink into your own memories.

The jubilant “I’m Comin’ Home” details a soldier on his way back to his family and features lively harmonica from Sherman Doucette, with an insightful lyric and great vocal.

“Rock, Rock Little Girl” makes you wanna ‘jump, jive and wail’ as Kenny tells you ‘if you don’t know how to jive you better sit on down’.

“Boogie to Gloryland” the last track on this CD and as his record label says ‘he shows you just who’s boss when it comes to blues piano playing.”

Visually watching this man play boogie woogie feels like you are experiencing the smoothness of Louis Jordan vocals, the costuming of Dr. John and the boogie woogie keys like Professor Piano Scott Cushnie but the overall package is truly the ‘Blues Boss’ himself – Kenny Wayne. As a one-man cheering section for the days when blues and jazz met the roots of rock and roll, Kenny ‘Blues Boss’ Wayne is an artist who’s got it all: talent, charisma and showmanship. Oozing with class and sophistication, Wayne is a throwback to the golden age of classic rhythm and blues while offering a fresh approach to the genre.

This is a must for anyone who loves boogie woogie, rock ‘n’ roll and 40’s music, combined with a bit of church going, foot stomping arrangements. Definitely a keeper for my own personal collection.

The zoot suited ‘Blues Boss’ will be touring Russia, South America, and Europe this year, in addition to playing various North American summer festivals. Visit www.kennybluesboss.com for more details.

For a special treat log on and watch https://youtu.be/HG0BVMc5ua0 with Kenny “Blues Boss” Wayne on Saturday Night Blues on CBC Radio in conversation with Holger Petersen. Kenny plays, Heaven, Send Me An Angel, An Old Rock on a Roll, Rockin’ Boogie Party. Recorde on Feb. 3, 2012 at the CBC studio in Edmonton.

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