Madison guitarist extraordinaire James Eisele let thirty-five years go by before he decided to reconvene his seventies band Jettin’ James and the band sounds like nary a day has gone by. Steeped in hard rock and the blues, the band covered material by the Allman Brothers, Hendrix and Cream amongst others. They also played original material, not exactly common for a local group in the early seventies.
Eisele has played in assortment of other bands over the years including James Eisele Jazz Trio, Midnight Flight (blues/rock), Orange Colored Sky (jazz) and Tate and the 008 Band (blues). Also does solo work, fill-in gigs with Electric Road Kings and studio recording.
Perseverance is his third CD of all-original material in the last two years following 3rd Degree Blues and Coming Into a New Age. Currently Eisele is finishing up a collaboration with singer Karri Daley on her forthcoming CD entitled Smooth Sailing (also featuring saxophonist Rob Corbit and bassist Tom McCarty) and is playing in a new band called Vintage Red.
Jettin’ James is a power trio that includes bassist Douglas Tracy (read more about Doug here) and drummer Jeff Waech. The three gel together well and stick to blues/rock for the most part, occasionally tossing in some jazz and more classic rock elements. The ryhthm section is stellar but the album is primarilly a guitar record. Eisele is an excellent soloist, fluid and expressive and although he employs slide and acoustic guitar, the emphasis is on the good ol’ six-string electric.
While Eisele capably handles the vocal chores, the highlight track on the album is an instrumental, “Strut,” which is embellished with marimba played by Todd Waech, who also contributes other percussion tracks to the album. This tune is great and, aside from the jazzy vibe the marimba brings, is a dead-ringer for Wishbone Ash, one of the all-time great guitar bands. Eisele doubles his guitar parts giving the song the harmonized dual-guitar melodicism that Wishbone Ash excelled at.
Also on the jazzy side is the mid-tempo ballad “Castles,” which also sounds a lot like Wishbone Ash, down to the English inflections on the vocals. At over six minutes it stretches on a bit too long, however.
The title track is a deep nod to Hendrix with some excellent, feedback-laden guitar. The best blues tracks are “All of These Woes,” which sounds like a george Thorogood tune with Eisele playing some hot slide guitar, and “Don’t Try,” which goes for a ZZ Top kind of groove. Eisele’s style seems to flow best on these tracks, both stylistically and vocally.
The album closes with “I Got to Boogie,” strongly reminiscent of Taylor-era Rolling Stones, especially their track “I Got to Move,” which then morphs in a kick-ass blues boogie with scorching leads.
Eisele and band aren’t breaking new ground here; that’s not what they do. If you can’t get enough of solid blues/rock tunes and sizzling guitar work, however, you’ll dig Perseverance.