Tuesday, 17 July 2018

Vanessa Collier “Honey Up” 2018 US Blues,Funk,Soul


Vanessa Collier “Honey Up” 2018 US Blues,Funk,Soul

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“There’s a young lady [Vanessa Collier] came on stage with me, I forget where I was, but she’s playing an alto saxophone, and man, she was amazing.” – Buddy Guy 

If you haven’t been fortunate enough to meet Vanessa Collier and witness one of her head-turning, fiery, and passionate performances, you should definitely make sure you do. As a master musician and multi-instrumentalist, Vanessa weaves funk, soul, rock, and blues into every powerful performance and she is downright impressive. With soulful vocals, searing saxophone, and witty songwriting, Vanessa is blazing a trail, racking up an arsenal of honours, and has already singled herself out as an artist of distinction and one we would all do well to watch. 

It’s not simply the accolades she has accumulated so far, although they’ve been many – three Blues Music Award Nominations (BMAs) for Contemporary Blues Female Artist of the Year (2018) and Horn Player of the Year (2018 and 2017), a Blues Blast Award nomination, the Jammingest Pro Award bestowed by the Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruise, First Place for lyrics in the International Songwriting Competition, Best of 2014 Blues Breaker on Dan Aykroyd’s BluesMobile – it’s the fact that she has accumulated all these honours even while her career is still in its infancy. A 2013 graduate of the prestigious Berklee College of Music, she’s toured nationally and internationally, released two critically acclaimed albums (2014’s Heart, Soul & Saxophone and 2017’s Meeting My Shadow), and will release her highly anticipated self-produced third album, Honey Up, in July 2018. 

These days, Collier spends much of her time on the road, performing at some of the most prestigious music festivals in the world. Her talents have taken her to the Blues Music Awards Show where, in the words of the Blues Foundation, Vanessa “blew the doors off the Blues Music Awards!”; Ottawa Blues Festival, where she earned two front page newspaper photos and rave reviews after her foot stomping debut there; twice on the Legendary Rhythm and Blues Cruise, where she earned the Jammingest Pro Award and was a featured artist with Tommy Castro’s Blues Review; Briggs Farm Festival, where she was the “most popular Briggs Farm act in 2017” (Elmore Magazine), and the list continues. In 2017, Vanessa was also a featured artist in three major tours across Europe as part of Ruf’s 2017 Blues Caravan. 

As for Collier, she says she’s happy performing on stages across the world, hoping that she can make a difference with fans and followers along the way. “I am driven to do this because I find it a total form of expression and connection,” she explains. “I love connecting with an audience and feeling their energy and I hope to inspire people to follow their dreams and passions, to find what brings them joy, and then to pursue it doggedly.”….~


Vanessa Collier is fearless. She’s been on the rise ever since graduating from the esteemed Berklee College of Music in 2013. Building a reputation as one of the most charismatic live performers in blues today, Vanessa has wowed audiences worldwide, already received multiple BMA nominations, and the backing of a major record label. Yet, she’s decided to self-release this one, with momentum in her favor. 

To simply call her a blues artist doesn’t paint the whole picture. She’s a multi-genre musician, playing deep funk, soul, jam band, and rock in addition to blues. She could also do a wonderful job playing jazz if pressed. She’s a multi-instrumentalist too, handling alto, tenor and soprano saxes in addition to guitars. Her music is joyous as she never fails to bring an audience to their feet. Yet, it’s more than just a show. An award-winning songwriter, Collier writes most of her own material including nine of these ten on Honey Up. She brings a pulsating, driving intensity to all of it, including the cover of Chris Smither’s “Love Me Like a Man,” popularized by Bonnie Raitt, and a crowd favorite in Collier’s live shows. 

Accompanied by her well-travelled road band (Nick Stevens -drums, Nick Trautmann – bass, Sparky Parker -guitar, and William Gorman – keyboards), Collier also enlists the support of master guitarist Laura Chavez, who also appeared on her previous album, as well as Quinn Carson (trombone) and Doug Woolverton (trumpet) for half of the tracks, featuring some ensemble horn parts. Collier is primarily an alto saxophonist with a soulful style that evokes Cannonball Adderley and Lou Donaldson; and a honking vibrato that calls to mind Jr. Walker. 

She kicks off with the horn-infused stomper “Sweatin’ Like a Pig, Singin’ Like An Angel,” and follows with NOLA second line brass effects on “Don’t Nobody Got Time to Waste.” Here, as throughout the album, Vanessa mixes in her own background vocals. Hers is the album’s only voice. Gorman’s clavinet signals the funk of the title track which continues into the instrumental “Percolatin’,” driven by Trautmann’s bass line and Collier on tenor. The sound of Collier’s acoustic guitar and soprano sax yields to rather breezy soul for “Icarus.” The blaring horns return for “Fault Line,” which rocks hard and includes all the players, highlighted by Chavez’s scorching guitar. 

The swampy “Bless Your Heart” is a slight departure from most of the album has it has both Collier and 
her guitarist, Sparky Parker, on resonators with Collier taking a defiant feminine stance: “Don’t call me sweetheart, don’t call me your baby….” The full ensemble returns for the swinging horn-driven tune, “You’re a Pill.” This one, as much as any tune, and especially Collier’s alto solo, clearly echoes Jr. Walker. “You Get What You Get” has some Crescent City piano from Gorman and carries a Dr. John vibe. 
This album reflects Collier’s live act: animation, charisma, and a strong command of all those classic sounds from the deep South, Memphis, New Orleans, Detroit, and Chicago. You owe it to yourself to catch her live. She’s one of a kind. ….—Jim Hynes…~ 


Vanessa Collier graduated Boston’s Berklee College of Music with degrees in Performance, Music Production, and Engineering. In 2014 Collier released her debut album “Heart, Soul and Saxophone”. Her mixture of blues, rock, soul and funk resulted in being named a 2014 Best of Blues Breaker on Dan Aykroyd’s House of Blues radio show. After competing in the 2016 International Blues Challenge, held annually in Memphis, she was signed by Ruf Records. 

Collier’s 2017 Ruf Records album “Meeting My Shadow” was first released to radio before the actual release date. The result was a 2017 Blues Music Award nomination as Horn Player of The Year. At this year’s BMA awards Collier received two additional nominations including Contemporary Female Artist of The Year. 

The “Honey Up” Band includes Collier, alto, tenor and soprano saxophones, guitar and vocals; Laura Chavez and/or Sparky Parker, guitar; William Gorman, keyboards; Nick Trautmann, bass; and Nick Stevens, drums and percussion. Trombone player Quinn Carson and the trumpet of Doug Woolverton (Roomful of Blues) are added on half of the tracks. The album is entirely self produced by Collier who enlists two of her former college professors: Mark Wessel as recording engineer and Rich Mendelson for the mixing and mastering. All of the songs are written by Collier except one. 

On “Sweatin’ Like A Pig, Singin’ Like An Angel”; “Don’t Nobody Got Time To Waste”, and again on the funky title track, Collier plays as part of a three piece horn section giving these songs a New Orleans styled production. One can’t help but wonder how Collier would sound if playing and singing some of those classic New Orleans songs. Also featured are Chavez, Gorman and the fabulous rhythm section of Stevens and Trautmann. 

“Percolatin” is a funky instrumental featuring Trautmann on bass and Chavez and Parker sharing the guitar chores. Collier’s fabulous tenor solo is followed by a piano solo from Gorman. “Icarus” is about the mythological youth, who made his wings out of wax, flew too high and plunged to his death in the sea, It is beautifully sung by Collier who this time plays an alto sax. 

On “Bless Your Heart” Collier and Parker are both on resonator guitars while Chavez plays her electric. “The Fault Line” and “You’re A Pill” once again feature the three piece horn section. “You Get What You Get” is another infectious vocal with some great drumming from Stevens and another fabulous piano solo from Gorman. Collier closes out this fine album with Chris Smithers’ “Love Me Like A Man”; Parker’s electric guitar solo is followed by a another tenor solo from Collier. 

This is another award winning album from Collier whose rise to the top is nothing short of meteoric. ….by….Richard Ludmerer…..~ 


Vanessa Collier brings her vast talents and her mighty Horns Of Plenty to the table on her latest offering, “Honey Up!” This young lady is a graduate of the ultra-prestigious Berklee College Of Music who has received multiple Blues Award nominations and who has worked with Tommy Castro on his Blues Revue. She’s at once funky, soulful, and bluesy, and it all comes together in this ten-cut extravaganza, nine of which are Vanessa’s originals. She’s got a full band at her disposal throughout, and everybody’s chemistry makes this one special, indeed. 

We start off in church–yep–everybody in this part of the country knows all about summertime and Sundays down South. You’re workin’ your church fan, the choir is bringin’ it, and you’re literally “Sweatin’ Like A Pig, Singin’ Like An Angel.” That’s Brother William Gorman testifyin’ all over the piano, too! We all stick around for Sunday evenin’ service on the next cut, where Vanessa tells us “Don’t Nobody Got No Time To Waste,” and laziness ain’t tolerated in her house! William rocks the B-3 on this one! Vanessa gets into a downright funky groove on the title cut, shoutin’-out to a no-good lover that she doesn’t intend to “Honey Up and kiss your behind!” She rocks out on an extended sax solo here, too, to get her point across even further! She hits a modified New Orleans groove on a tune with more sage advice for all of us–we can whine and have pity parties all day long, but, at the end of the day, “You Get What You Get, and you don’t get upset!” 

Vanessa is on acoustic guitar for one of our favorites. We all know the story of “little Icarus,” who wanted more than anything to “rassle the sun,” and serves as an example to us all to never give up on our dreams. And, she closes the set in a Memphis Minnie way, gettin’ down’n’ dirty, pleadin’ with her lover to just come on and “Love Me Like A Man!” 

With Vanessa Collier, it’s all about the performances. She loves connecting with her audiences, finding out what makes them tick, and feeding off their energy. When you are as blessed with natural talent as she is, that comes easy, and “Honey Up!” is a fantastic set! Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society….. by dvcrow56…..~ 




Tracklist

Sweatin’ Like A Pig, Singin’ Like An Angel (4:53) 
Don’t Nobody Got Time To Waste (3:37) 
Honey Up (4:53) 
Percolatin’ (5:00) 
Icarus (3:48) 
The Fault Line (3:41) 
Bless Your Heart (3:35) 
You’re A Pill (4:04) 
You Get What You Get (3:26) 
Love Me Like A Man (7:55) 

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