As the title implies, Guitar Groove-a-Rama
is a showcase for Duke Robillard and his guitar collection. It allows him to both flex his chops in a variety of styles and display his impressive set of instruments--on the cover and
in the grooves. Although he has recorded jazz discs, the founding member of Roomful of Blues is primarily a blues player, and that genre grounds the majority of this crackling release. It's also a jumping-off place for songs that reference twang (a peppy version of Bob Dylan's "Down Along the Cove"), jazzy lounge/gospel ("Sunday Mornin'"), and tough swamp ("Sewed Up"), plus a "Tequila"-styled surf take on Sonny Boy Williamson's "No Way Out" and even a swinging instrumental rendition of "Danny Boy" with a surprise Beatlesque ending.
The album's 16-minute centerpiece, "Blues-a-Rama," is a magnificent vehicle for Robillard. He uses a standard slow blues to introduce and play licks in the style of about a dozen influential guitarists, from the usual suspects such as Buddy Guy and Freddie, Albert, and B.B. King to the slightly more obscure likes of Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown. That track, like this terrific album, is a mini history lesson in blues guitar that every lover of the genre will enjoy and newcomers can use as a handy course. --Hal Horowitz
Guitar Groove-A-Rama features Duke in a mostly trio format, accentuating the many nuances of his guitar work and representing perhaps Duke's most ambitious album yet in a career that spans almost 40 years. Duke's credits include a long list of impressive collaborations in studio and onstage with everyone for Muddy Waters and B B King to Bob Dylan. He is also known for founding Roomful of Blues and replacing Jimmie Vaughan in The Fabulous Thunderbirds. Duke has been honored as Best Guitarist at The Blues Music Awards (formerly The W.C. Handy Awards) 4 of the past 6 years and was named Best International Blues Artist in Canada's Maple Blues Awards three of the past five years. Stony Plain. 2006.