Big Papa And The TCB - Six Pack Of Cool

Jump and swing done just right
  |   Comments

You may have heard Big Papa And The TCB without knowing it.  Their song "Go Big Papa" has been featured in a national advertising campaign for Papa John's Pizza, including airplay during the Superbowl. 

Six Pack Of Cool is the band's fifth release, and a fine collection of jump and swing blues it is.  Led by guitarist and vocalist Chris 'Big Papa' Thayer, the six-piece ensemble (hence the title) romp and snort through thirteen tunes with unbridled energy and enthusiastically engaging performances.

Indeed, from opener "Papa's In The House" to the collection's second-last track, the furiously upbeat instrumental "Showtime," there's little time to take a breath.  This is a good-time band, and the music is meant to fill dance floors.  When things do slow down, as on "200 Lbs Of Trouble," there's still a brassy swagger to proceedings.  Elsewhere, the mood is generally jaunty - "A Thin Line Between Love And Hate," "Baby's Got A New Friend" and  "A Little Bit O' Somethin'," are all bright and breezy. 

The bulk of the writing is credited to guitarist Thayer, whose songs are uniformly excellent.   There's lots of variety, and each tune has distinct and irresistible hooks, with lots of stops, nicely layered horns, and brief but top-notch solos all around.  Thayer doesn't have the biggest voice, but his natural exuberance is more than enough.  His guitar work is also razor-sharp, uncoiling with a snarling, edge-of-nasty tone, and piano and brass contributions throughout are excellent.  Special mention goes to drummer Ray Wilson, whose enthusiastic energy is irrepressible.

The disc's only cover is Honey Piazza's "Murder In The First Degree," with the band's transcription from harmonica to horns working very well.  There's a bit of a second-line feel to "Big Bad Blues," and a hint of gospel to go with a bawdy trumpet on the closer, "My Way Back Home," with its promise of hope and redemption.

There are lots of revivalist bands around doing the jump/swing thing, but few can put together a superior collection of originals that add to rather than repeat familiar fare, and it's rarely done as well as this.  Highly recommended!