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Jim Campilongo and the Ten Gallon Cats

Table For One – 1998 (Blue Hen)

Reviewed by Jon Johnson

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CDs by Jim Campilongo and the Ten Gallon Cats

The San Francisco-based Campilongo's third album could just as easily be titled, "Jim Campilongo, the Moonlight, and You." And a more radical departure from his first two albums would, in fact, be difficult to picture.

The new album is, more than anything else, reminiscent of west coast jazz records of the Kennedy years. Campilongo's guitar work, while still exhibiting flashes of its characteristic dissonance, is distinctly more subdued here; owing as much to jazz players like Barney Kessell as it does to his earlier primary influence, Jimmy Bryant. In addition, the brilliant steel guitarist Joe Goldmark, who played Speedy West to Campilongo's Jimmy Bryant on the first two albums, is only on one of the new album's songs ("D'Boat"). Most surprising is perhaps the addition of keyboardist Rob Burger to the mix, who concentrates on Hammond B3 organ and accordion, adding something of a Jimmy Smith feel to the proceedings.

In short, fans of Campilongo's first two country-jazz outings should be aware this is a vast change. By no means is a country influence completely exorcised (two of the three covers are versions of Wynn Stewart's "Wishful Thinking" and Billy Sherrill's "Too Far Gone"). Make no mistake: this is a very good album - and a brave one. (Blue Hen Records, 415-398-1499 or E-Mail: mc@bluehenrecords.com)