Shirley Jackson & Her Rockin' Daddys Comfort Food

One of 2007’s most surprising and, ultimately, rewarding releases is the brainchild of award-winning Tenor Sax stalwart Shirley Jackson and her handpicked crew, compromised of the cream of the Maritime blues and jazz crops. The surprise is not that she could pull off such an artfully themed and superbly arranged release but that she could seamlessly merge the world of swing jazz to jump blues and rock’n’roll in the process. Comfort Food lives up to its title, being a no-nonsense collection of 11 tracks (covers and originals) that pique the appetite as they hit the spot and soothe the soul. From the big band snarl of instrumental "Tailgator Jump,” with its tenor-driven attack, tough guitar lines and crisp, skin-tight horn lines, to her "One Way Thinking,” one of the disc’s strongest tracks, which simmers with a threatening blues assault helmed by Phil Potvin’s harmonica, Brad Conrad’s slippery guitar leads and, as always, Jackson’s wall of slick horns, Comfort Food exudes good taste. Another original, "No Compromise,” is a slinky, sassy Big Band jump, while the outrageously fun title track follows Barry Cooke and Carter Chaplin’s leads (organ and guitar) into serious shindig country, demonstrating a world of chops and barely tapped potential. Jackson’s self-supplied vocals are economical but to the point, in keeping with the carefully crafted material. This is a sophisticated release that’s as much a throwback to a bygone era as it is a giant step forward for Canadian jazz and blues, pulled off by a woman with her head and heart in all the right places. (Independent)