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Jim Stringer and the Austin Music Band

Swang! – 1999 (The Music Room)

Reviewed by Stuart Munro

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CDs by Jim Stringer and the Austin Music Band

The Austin Music Band is another one of Jim Stringer's musical projects, originally conceived of as a sequel to the concept of the Stringer-produced "Travis County Pickin'" album. However, this band, while fishing some of the same country-jazz waters, casts a wider net: it draws upon both twang and swing to form a hybrid that Stringer labels "swang."

The disc kicks off with the cleverly named and self-descriptive instrumental "Onward, Charlie Christian's Soldiers" and follows with a judicious mix of originals and covers. The latter include credible renditions of the Johnny Bond hit "Sick, Sober, and Sorry," a true-to-the-Wynn-Stewart-version "Long Black Limousine" and a couple of Louis Jordan numbers, and a swinging run-through of Mel Tillis' "No Love Have I." Of the originals, "Bye-Bye Bayou" and "Earthquake," a shaking rockabilly tune that features some Jerry Lee-esque piano-pounding as well as vocals from T Jarrod Bonta, particularly stand out.

Stringer's collection of veteran Austin musicians provide accomplished ensemble playing (and it's not often that a drummer makes a listener sit up and take notice, but Lee Potter's driving beat, subtle touch and complex fills are really something). Stringer, pianist Bonta, and "featured vocalist" Alan Barnet all provide lead vocals, and while the leads are occasionally a little thin, they are supported by consistently tight harmonies. A satisfying album from another in a series of Jim Stringer groups. (Jim Stringer, 512-302-0766)