Album Of The Week: Joe Restivo – “Where’s Joe”

I love discovering new (new to me, at least) artists and this week’s album of the week artist definitely falls into that category. Joe Restivo is a jazz and blues guitarist out of Memphis, a place teeming with great guitarists, and if you can shine there, that means you have something special. “Where’s Joe”, his first album, is proof positive of that, with sparkling guitar work on classics like Monk’s “Bolivar’s Blues” and Charlie Parker’s “Tiny’s Tempo”. His band swings really hard, and the superb recording quality buoys the performance. Check this out and thank me later…Favorite song “Bolivar’s Blues”.  (Tidal Stream Below)

From the press release:

Memphis’ Joe Restivo – member of beloved soul band the Bo-Keys – will release ‘Where’s Joe?,’ his debut album, July 12 on Blue Barrel Records (the non-profit label arm of Archer Records). The album crystalizes his interest in Memphis jazz music made at the intersection of jump blues, rhythm & blues, and jazz. This is swinging, fun music, jazz for hipster cocktail parties, which Restivo has been refining with his weekly residency at Lafeyette’s over four years.

A protégé of Calvin Newborn, Restivo began playing clubs in the transitional period of the 1990s, when the blues, jazz, and rhythm & blues masters could still be found on Beale Street and elsewhere in Memphis. Restivo would play regularly with organ master Charlie Wood and piano great Mose Vinson and would see Newborn play every week. “He had that bebop element but it was also kind of dangerous and had a rock and roll thing, too. It wasn’t purely serious. But he was also playing sophisticated music,” remembers Restivo, recalling that he also used to see old-school, jazz-based Beale Street players like saxophonists Fats Sonny and Fred Ford, organist Honeymoon Gardner, and trumpet player Noki Taylor, play live frequently. “You don’t hear anyone make the guitar growl a little bit in jazz. These sounds from that era are brackish water. Is Tiny Grimes a rock and roll artist or is he a jazz artist or is he jump blues?,” he asks, rhetorically. Taking these influences and making them his own, Restivo’s masterful guitar work also recalls national greats such as Oscar Moore (Nat King Cole), Loman Pauling (The 5 Royales), Tal Farlow, and Hank Garland.


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