Author: PT Gazell
It was early December 2012 when I got a call from my good friend Jelly Roll Johnson. After a bit of Nashville chitchat, Jelly informed me that he was about to record an EP of 7 songs.
This immediately got my attention since Jelly Roll does not take documenting his playing lightly. In February I got another call from the maestro asking if I would be interested in mastering the project. I said yes.
As soon as I got the mixes and started to listen I knew this was going to be good. The instrumentation was the first thing that grabbed me. Jelly Roll on harmonica, Pat Bergeson on guitar, (yeah that Pat Bergeson) Chris Brown on drums (same drummer I have used on my last three CDs,) and Charles Treadway on B3 organ!
That B3 organ with Charles kicking bass pedals is what makes this a sonic delight. My first thought was, that it had that classic jazz sound to it. You know, like a Cannonball Adderley or Gene Ammons LP. It’s jazz, but it has that Soul and Rhythm and Blues feel to it.
Of course none of that matters if you don¹t have the musical vocabulary to match the songs and instrumentation. Believe me? these guys do! Charles, Pat & Chris sound like they been out gigging 6 nights a week at all the important venues nationwide. They know when to play, what to play, and how to play with each other.
Which brings me to Jelly Roll. This guy’s low key and humble personality does not properly convey the musical prowess that has made him the first call session player here in Music City for years.
That thick buttery tone, coupled with his relaxed approach to the beat has always made me envious. Jelly never seems to be in a hurry with his delivery, and that makes it twice as hard to pull off since there is no place to hide. No gimmicks here, just great playing and exceptional control and tasteful vibrato.
Check out the Title cut “Come Rain Or Come Shine” to see what I am talking about. This is about as deep in the pocket as it gets.
Two other cuts that really stand out for me are:
“Moanin'” ~ There have been a lot of harmonica players covering this over the years but Jelly Roll pretty much ends the conversation with this version.
“Sugar” ~ I am going to say it, and will take the heat?. Jelly Roll owns this song! I have not heard anyone else do this on diatonic and hit all those triplets in the melody. A real Third Position Minor treat. Fantastic solo!
Two other tracks feature Jelly Roll on Chromatic, “Killer Joe” & “Blue Bossa.”
“Preacher” and “Willow Weep For Me” round out the EP.
This is what harmonica playing should be like regardless of genre. Well done my friend!
You can check out samples and purchase this CD at these two sites: