Mississippi Rag / William J. Schafer (Gypsy Tendercies)

Category: Press

Bell’s solo album Gypsy Tendercies (2004) was made by dubbing solo guitar lines over a pre-taped rhythm guitar plus bass background with Bell playing both guitar parts and Matt Senjem providing the bass part. The CD revisits some TCHC numbers – ‘Jersey Bounce,’ ‘Artillerie Lourde,’ and ‘Minor Swing.’ The comparison is instructive as Bell is the sole lyric voice and must spread his talents wider and suppress his tendencies toward a laconic lead. He still retains an understated approach, and his staccato picking is even more incisive than with the full quartet. The absence of the fiddle lead makes Bell display his talents for invention and his ability to push the trio (pre-recorded or not!) along subtly. Bell spreads out his romantic sensibilities in pieces like ‘I’m Confessin,’ echoing Louis Armstrong’s classic version. He also renders ‘Ain’t Misbehavin’ as a thoughtful ballad, not a jump number. His brief original tune ‘Minor Blues’ is like an echo or answer to the classic ‘Minor Swing’ and frames a nifty high-velocity bass solo. this is more than an interesting footnote to the band CD.-William J. Schafer