You have to scratch your head and wonder when a CD arrives at your home titled " Committee of Vultures " - Most definitely not your average, run-of-the mill " blues band ". Then again, if " the blues “is a framework, and so many social, emotional, political, influences are striking it with the intensity of a wrathful lightning strike, there is always room for the creatively unique, the ground-breaking, the devil-be-damned, that makes up the Contemporary Blues Scene. Purists will always be out there, giving the " Next Gen's” pure hell fire for daring to be different, screwing with the tried and true, pulling apart the fabrics of “their music “, and clamoring, with torches high, for the heads of the peculiar, the visionary, and the offbeat.
What exactly is a " Committee of Vultures”? A group of vultures is called a committee. Vultures are amazing birds, but they are often misunderstood. Vultures have an important ecological role in the world. There are 23 vulture species in the world - and at least one type of vulture is found on every continent except Australia and Antarctica. International Vulture Awareness Day is celebrated world-wide on the first Saturday of each September.
Let's drift back to the " Committee of Vultures " -
Committee Of Vultures is a loose ensemble of experienced musicians based in New Jersey. The members’ careers include stints with Bob Dylan, The Blues Brothers Band, Lenny Kravitz, Rick Derringer, Donald Fagen and Southside Johnny & The Asbury Jukes. The album contains twelve songs written by Robert September. who sings on some songs (and plays guitar and harmonica) and the album was produced by Benny Harrison and Bob Zaleski. A large number of musicians are involved: Benny Harrison is on keyboards and guitar, Kevin Hadley, PK Layvengood, Robert Mills and Steve DeAcutis are on guitar, bass duties are shared between Jack Daley, Glen Burtnik, Brandon Morrison, Tony Servedio, Charlie Torres, Gerry Babo and Kenny Aaronson, drums between Dave Halpern, Ray Grappone, Lee Falco, Andy Kenopensky and Joe Bellia; pedal steel comes from Jimmy Ryan, horns from Al Chez, Darrell Hendricks and Baron Raymonde, accordion from Kraig Greff, fiddle from Tim Carbone and harp from Rob Paparozzi. Vocals are spread around with Rob Paparozzi, Ken Darcy and Robert Mills on one song each, writer Robert handling seven and Ada Dyer contributing to four; backing vocalists include Lisa Lowell, Sheryl Marshall, Patti Maloney, Leslie Wagner and George Unverzagt. The music covers a lot of ground with soul, country, rock and Americana all competing with the blues for space at the table.
All songs are written by hardcore Jersey Delta native and saw mill worker Robert Van Kull, noted for his transient existence and aversion to cameras and interviews. Van Kull is partnered with musical legend Benny Harrison, a well-known staple in the N.Y./N.J. music scene as a vocalist, multi-instrumentalist and songwriter. This duo has been recording continuously since 2012. They draw from a deep well of the best musicians the area has to offer and have amassed a deep vault of studio recordings that remain largely unreleased to date.
The blues is the trickster of musical genres. It’s a joyful, exuberant music full of upbeat rhythms and playful humor – but it’s also a deeply sad music that deals with suffering and loneliness. It’s a music of dance halls and wooden porches, open fields and grimy factories, the city and the country, the North and the South. The blues captures something deeply familiar, yet impossible to describe.
That’s probably why it has had such an enormous influence on modern music. Every style of popular music today – hip-hop, R&B, EDM, country, rock, metal, and jazz – they all have their roots in the blues. ( musicdictionary.com)
" Committee of Vultures " is the essence of " the blues “. Their songs are packed with stories, unforgettable songs, well-crafted journeys that take us along as we interact with hope and loves lost, redemption, betrayal, and rebirth. These are stories that we all share, a communal bond all tied together by the music of " the blues”. From rock n' roll, blues, soul, swamp boogie, country rap, and plenty of soul we cross that " Jersey Delta “, taking that same mythical quest that drove Robert Johnson to seek out the devil decades ago. Every musician here has an important role to play. Every musician brings their extraordinary talents front and center. There are many surprises along the way : " Lightning Struck the Fairgrounds " is powerful , rhythm driven , full-throttle blues ; " Dressed to Get Naked " is a Christmas-dipped delight featuring a swinging trumpet from Al Chez , Ada Dyers vocals , Pk's slide , and Lee Falco on both drums and backing vocals ; " Vainglory " brings mandolin and banjo centerstage ; " Criminal Minds " features rock guitar , slide , and accordion ; " Expert on Grease " is the ballad of two people and their journeys in a small town - the clever lyrical interplay between "Grease" and " Greece " is a highlight ; " Crossroad Dancing " kicks off Side 2 with Robert Mills on vocals and a very cool combination of pedal steel , fiddle , accordion , alongside a bass harmonica - Six outstanding tracks on Side 1 with another set of 6 stellar compositions on Side 2 - The extraordinary versatility here is truly impressive .
" Jersey Delta Records " is dedicated to the preservation and promotion of the music, culture, and history of the Jersey Delta...at Jersey Delta our motto is " Serve the music “.
" Committee of Vultures " creates music that is not always clear cut - You may not like everything that is offered but the trip is well worth the effort. No one stars here but everyone shines! They are not reinventing the wheel here, just creating some great music that makes you feel good, taking you on a journey that will certainly surprise you. Enjoy the ride! Solid effort well-worth tracking down!