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Dennis Jones: CD Reviews

Reviews - Passion For The Blues

Here’s a ‘young gun’ who’s got the whole package required for big-time commercial success; looks/image, charisma, fire-driven performance, youth (which will appeal to anti-aged labels), a strong unique voice and he can play burning Blues guitar. This is the second CD from Jones on Blue Rock Records (we didn’t hear the first) so we’ll consider this to be a debut release (based on first impressions). The Los Angeles young veteran of the ‘underground’ South Central Blues scene has developed his tough sound at Babe’s & Ricky’s legendary club, the last hangout for L.A.’s Blues veterans. This is a tuff little trio featuring Jones on guitar & vocals, Michael Turner (drums & background vocals) and Kenny ‘Boudro’ Gray on Bass. Guest musicians are Jimmy Z (sax & harp), Marshall Thompson (piano & organ), Tony Ruiz (bass on one tune) and the great Zac Harmon on guitar & vocals on “I Just Want To Make Love To You”. And, last but not least, ‘T’ lends her womanly charms to the afore mentioned track. “No Mo”, the intro tune sets the tone nicely as it establishes Jones’ macho ‘capable-of-being-nasty’ persona and sound, the same mojo juice that’s propelled all the great Blues Men (“I’m-warning-you-baby” a.k.a. kick-me-once-more-and-I’ll-bite” as Blues truly can be the purest form of macho/machismo projection). Very few artists have the formula that appeals to both young Blues/Rock lovers and older hard-core Blues fans but it’s the most sought combination (Robert Cray, Stevie Ray V., Johnny Winter, ZZ Top etc) in terms of marketability. There are enough flashes of true-grit Blues/Rock brilliance to have loads of critics declaring Dennis Jones to be the ‘Next-Big-Thing’ and it’s very easy to picture huge crowds of 18 to 25 year-old fans stompin’ and fist-raising to aggressive hits like “When I Die” or a killer Rock/Rap/Blues hybrid remake (with Zac Harmon) of “I Just Want To Make Love To You”. Track #2, “Super Deluxe” has all the ingredients to make it a Heavy Radio favorite with an ever-increasing surging intensity that is hypnotic. This young man can write songs that are unique and ass-kicking enjoyable. Ditto for track #3, “When I Die” which had me thinking “I wonder if Hendrix would’ve sounded like this had he done a Blues album.” Loads of Charisma. This is one of the Best Power Trio’s I’ve ever heard and they’re BLACK!! (I’ve always had my eyes/ears out for a Trio like this that could possible influence young Blacks to get away from Crap Rap and pick-up instruments…). Nice harp from Jimmy Z. “Passion For The Blues” shows us that Dennis has a serious commitment to Blues and this is another finely-crafted tune. “Graffiti” has a Hip/Beat poetry sense to it and again it evokes Hendrix thoughts but only because Dennis is cut-from-the-same-cloth! (I can’t believe this guy hasn’t been signed to a Major label yet!) It’s actually a PLEASURE to listen to the music on this disc and you’ll find yourself grinning with eyes closed and head just-a-boppin’! “You’re Wrong” has a SRV-style Texas guitar flavor and Jones goes nuts showing off his lightning chops and proving that he’s one of the hottest young pickers in Blues. Marshall Thompson also has a hot Hammond solo. “I Just Want To Make Love To You” has machismo charisma in truckloads and it’s easy to imagine this version of Muddy’s classic becoming a Hit in 3 different camps (Rock, Blues and Modern R&B), as it’s all testosterone. And then, Dennis delivers a PURE 100% Blues of the low-down variety on “Something Good”. Nice! “Automatic Love” has harp/guitar up front in a tuff little number and then we have the live closing track from the Blue Café in Long Beach; “Slam Jam”, which proves that Dennis’ prowess is not the creation of studio aids. These 3 fellows are really tough/tight and very charismatic. So, Dennis Jones is one of the hottest young pickers on The Planet, he oozes charisma, his music crosses all genre boundaries, the music is stunning and the band is superbly cohesive. What more could anyone ask for. Besides Billy Jones, Dennis Jones (are they twins?) has no competition for Hottest New Blues artist on the scene today. This disc is a killer-diller and don’t be surprised if a Mega-label comes calling to sign this Act. 6 Bottles for an album that’ll have the most cynical Blues fans jumping on the band wagon yelling “Dennis Jones! Dennis Jones!”
Andy Grigg - Real Blues Magazine (Mar 2, 2007)
This SoCal guitar thraser's sophomore release falls into the Jimi Hendrix/Steve Ray Vaughan power trio continuum. Whether playing a shuffle, a slow blues, or bombastic blues rock, Jones' visceral style is infused with rock energy by drummer/co-producer Michael Turner, bassist Kenny "Boudro" Gray, guest sax and harp player Jimmy "Z" Zavala and guest keyboardist Marshall Thompson. Two potential songs-of-the-year reveal Jones as a formidable writer: the churning, existential grinder "When I Die" features Zavala's blustery harp and a life-affirming lyrical theme; and the title track, a bluesy, Hendrix like paean to the genre's heroes. The T-Bird twang of "You're Wrong" defies listeners to sit still and "Super Deluxe" boasts an infectious sax hook by Zavala (a veteran of Eric Burdon, Rod Stewart and Etta James). Muddy Waters "I Just Want To Make Love To You" becomes a cutting contest between Dennis and his former employer, guitarist/vocalist Zac Harmon. Jones is a smooth, matter-of-fact vocalist who doesn't lapse into histrionics. His album clocks in at only 41 minutes, but fans of Vaughan and Hendrix - as well as followers of Michael Hill, Tinsley Ellis, Walter Trout, and Bernard Allison - will find much to enjoy on "Passion For The Blues".
Thomas J. Cullen III - Blues Revue (May 23, 2006)
It's easy to become cynical about the blues in a time when anyone who has ever strapped on a Srat is playing a shuffle and genuflecting at the altar of SRV. Unfortunately, most miss the point, but not Dennis Jones. Jones cooks here on cuts like "Super Deluxe" a jazzy shuffle that lets him step outside the norm. He has a fine feel for mixing jazz and blues and it shows on this cut. I also like the fact that he's not afraid to let'er rip on occasion too. "When I Die" is a heavy tune with great lyrics and lets Jones show his nasty side on the Strat. Here's one blues-influenced player who's not afraid to let some rock-and-roll slip into the music. "Graffiti" features some wonderful word-play and desending cord progressions with a fine solo. "You're Wrong" is a hard and fast shuffle. Same with "Automatic Love" with its pinched out and screaming notes that bring to mind a young Robert Cray. "Passion For The Blues" is a country blues ala Muddy that has lyrics about the music itself. Speaking of Muddy, there's a cover of "I Just Want To Make Love To You" that avoids all the inherent cliches. It my be hard to believe, but it works great. Check out the fine solo that's equal parts rock and blues. It's nice to see a guy who's been playing awhile put together a set of songs like this that give him a chance to show off his skills.
John Heidt - Vintage Guitar Magazine (Apr 12, 2006)
With his powerful contemporary blues band by his side, Dennis Jones reminds us why the blues gives so much to what we feel from day to day. On his title track, he sings about the impact of folks like Johnny Winter and Stevie Ray Vaughan on what drives us in our everyday activities. He's hit the nail squarely on the head, as he backs up his lyrics with fiery electric guitar conversation and a highly rhythmic band outing. Pianist/organist Marshall Thompson, drummer Michael Turner and bass guitarist Kenny (Boudro) Gray lend a hard-driving quality to the session, while Jimmy "Z" adds saucy harmonica and tenor saxophone thrills. Zac Harmon joins Jones for Willie Dixon's "I Just Want To Make Love To You" on which the band provides a strong nod to the blues tradition. A slow blues, such as "Something Good", gives Jones the opportunity to sing it from the heart. Throughout the session, he convinces with the kind of passion that comes from many years of payin' his dues. Originally from Baltimore, Jones lived in Europe for a time before coming out to the Southland. Somebody else's loss has turned into our gain. He's best when catching fire, as on "Automatic Love" and "Super Deluxe", where the whole band gets into the action. Jones and his crew create sparkling fireworks that come anchored by his skyrocketing guitar.
Jim Santella - Southland Blues Magazine (Feb 13, 2006)
Based in the Los Angeles area, Dennis Jones takes center stage with some soulful singing and impressive guitar work. The vocal style fits perfectly with the title of the CD and the guitar playing moves from crisp and tasty, to red hot, to subtle. Willie Dixon's "I Just Want To Make Love To You" is given a very modern, dance-club presentation; the tag-line at the end is priceless. Drayton Swain's "Slam Jam" recorded live at the Blue Cafe, is the lone instrumental track that gives Jones, drummer Michael Turner and bassist Tony Ruiz a chance to showcase their chops and their super tight ensemble sound. "No Mo" is a mid-tempo love lament. Jimmy "Z" really shines with his sax on "Super Deluxe." The title cut opens and closes with some resonator guitar riffs, but in between it has a contemporary, electric sound and opens lyrically with "Robert Johnson lit the fuse. Muddy Waters spread the news. It's heard around the world today. This music from the soul, from jazz to rock'n'roll, you know the blues are here to stay." It's a 5:37 tribute to the past and present of the music Jones clearly loves. "You're Wrong" has an infectious, up-tempo rhythm. The lyrics tell of a man resigned to being in love with a woman he knows will bring him grief, but he can't do anything about it. Marshall Thompson's keyboards add some melodic spice to this one.
Jim Primock - "HOLLER" Colorado Blues Society (Mar 13, 2006)