Kim Wilson – Smokin’ Joint

Smokin' Joint
Smokin' Joint

This CD, recorded over a two-year period, spotlights the world class work of the legendary T-Birds frontman, but of interest to the readers of this publication would be the four – count ’em, four – great guitarists lending support.

You kind of get the feeling that this level of musicianship is hiding around every corner in your local blues hood. That’s definitely the case in at least the Phoenix and Los Angeles areas.

Rusty Zinn should be familiar to the devotees of the current indigo renaissance. Well-established as a leader in his own right, his Al Casey/Bill Jennings-inspired lead work on this album is some of his strongest to date. Zinn’s articulation of the early-’50s styles rivals any player, new or established.

Space limitations preclude writing much about the other three but, suffice it to say, Wilson has no weak musical links. Messers Billy Flynn, with Zinn on the Phoenix set, and Kirk Fletcher, and Tray Gonyea on the California date cover the blues basses with style and aplomb. Whether the song is inspired by the work of a young Riley King or the late Luther Tucker, these guitarists are deeply versed in all the blues idioms, in these instances the majority of the influences would be post-war.

Wilson is doing what he should at this stage of his career. He has nothing left to prove and is as always at the top of his game, but is now surrounding himself with extraordinary young players who obviously inspire him. He is responding to their respectful challenges by giving them plenty of space to stretch, and that they do with stylistic respect to a leader who has been responsible for leaving the litter of many smoking joints along the blue highway.

This article originally appeared in VG‘s Nov. ’01 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.

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