When the term 'R&B' was first coined, the music wasn't that much different from blues, albeit unconfined by twelve-bar convention. More urban, to be sure, but still gritty, raw, and real, it was likely to feature horns rather than harmonica, and favor melody over menacing grooves.
It's territory the Chicago-born, Florida-based Terry Hank knows well. He's had a lengthy career honking and squealing on tenor sax, and "Gotta Bring It On Home To You," credited to the Terry Hanck Band And Friends, is a raucous and rollicking celebration of classic R&B.
Hanck's list of friends is impressive indeed. In addition to guitarist and producer Chris "Kid" Anderson, Debbie Davis drops by to duet with Hank and play guitar on one track, Jim Pugh (Robert Cray Band) contributes organ on a pair (farfisa one one), and Bob Welch (Mark Hummel) and Doug James (Roomful Of Blues) add piano and sax respectively.
The core band is exemplary as well. Bassist Tim Wagar and drummer Butch Cousins are both west-coast veterans, and guitarist Johnny "Cat" Soubrand provides superb support throughout.
Hanck is also bandleader, vocalist, and songwriter, and here he comes across as a boisterous and exuberant Master Of Ceremonies, the man who gets the party started and keeps it going. Kicking off with the rowdy "Right Now Is The Hour" (written by Elvin Bishop, Hanck's former employer), Hanck explores a variety of musical styles that include swinging, hard-core blues (B. B. King's classic "Whole Lotta Lovin,"), trips to New Orleans ("Pins And Needles") and Memphis ("T's Groove," a Hancks original, sounds like a long-lost Booker T. gem). The title tune, another original, is a hard-driving twelve-bar grinder with a catchy chorus, while "My Last Teardrop," also by Hancks, is pure 50's rock 'n' roll heartbreak. The lone instrumental, "Jam Up," is a furiously rocking, seldom-heard gem by New Orleans legend Tommy Ridgely.
Genial Host Hancks ensures things remain righteously upbeat throughout. The grooves are all eminently danceable, and while his voice may not quite have the sheer, potent power of his saxophone, he's an accomplished vocalist who clearly knows how to work a lyric to work the room. And his sax work - in 2012 he won both the Blues Music Awards and Living Blues Award for "Best Horn" - is absolutely red-hot, whether honking out irrepressible rhythms or screaming into the upper reaches of the scale.
A great disc to liven up any party, Gotta Bring It On Home To You is highly recommended.