For the four decades he's been on the scene, the Chicago-born guitarist Phil Upchurch has made music with the best and brightest in the business: from Curtis Mayfield to Quincy Jones to George Benson. With that impressive résumé, Upchurch knows how to move and groove and rock the house, and Tell the Truth
offers ample aural evidence of his skills. Blessed with a rich tone that blends the earthiness of Albert King with Kenny Burrell's finesse, Upchurch delivers a radio-friendly program that samples the best of straight-ahead and contemporary jazz, progressive rock, and urban contemporary genres. Upchurch swings Steely Dan's "Jack of Speed" and brings out the Latin flavor of "La Costa," a '70s hit by his former employer, Natalie Cole. With his South Side edge and downtown sophistication--as evidenced by his stirring solo take on W.C. Handy's "St. Louis Blues"--Phil Upchurch knows and plays a good groove when he hears it. --Eugene Holley Jr.