From Woody Russell
Jazz Quarterly "A wallop of pop-infused jazz, soul and rock flavorings that will send you on an unforgettable expedition through fascinating hues of ingenious songwriting and immaculate production – track after track after track."
SoulandJazzandFunk.com "[Carry It Up] is bristling with blue-eyed soul grooves while, lyrically, the long player offers insight into relationships as well as addressing broader social issues ... as on the album's title cut. The song 'Carry It Up' is a kind of 'He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother' for the 21st century."
CARRY IT UP Critically acclaimed, award winning vocalist, guitarist and composer, Woody Russell, has released a body of recorded work that spans from the folk-rock infused songwriter fare of his first album, …As Simple As That (1996) to the more recent and highly praised blues/soul release of Up Against It (2010) and the pop-jazz shades of Delicious Days (2013). A year in the making, his newest full length album, Russell's latest, Carry It Up, delivers more jazz shaded compositions that orbits around themes of love, compassion, tolerance, respect and the quest for all of the aforementioned. Again, his jazz-adjacent songwriting is present throughout as the band turns in one exceptional performance after another. Mainstays from previous WR lineups include bassist extraordinaire, Brady Muckelroy and harmonica ace, Jose Ruiz. Newer additions, Lloyd Wright (piano, keys), Derrick Hicks (piano), Tony Miller (drums) and special guest vocalist, Jacqui Walker, shine through with inspired performances. The recording is brimming with excellent solos and ensemble interplay. But, what elevates the game, yet again, is Russell’s very fine delivery as a vocalist: equal parts crooner and soul-shouter. There can be no doubt that he possesses a mastery of his vocal instrument which conveys an emotional sincerity with each phrase, each lyrical turn. And, not unlike a primary influence, Van Morrison, he navigates the sound of his words with a rhythmic precision and melodic expression akin to jazz improvisation. Then there’s his guitar playing, which Blues Revue likened to “the fearlessness of Jeff Beck”. The Austin, Texas based, self-described, "contemporary jazz troubadour" has always been a genre-blurring artist and Carry It Up is no exception. As a lyricist, Woody digs deep in to intimate narratives and is equally comfortable addressing a broader social consciousness. An amalgam of contemporary jazz and classic R&B buzzes at the core of Carry It Up, shaded by a hint of rock and soul. His sophisticated compositions are supported by narratives that dive deep in to the heart of the spiritual, the romantic and the soul-searcher. There is a timeless quality to Russell's music, but he is a performer who is very clearly in the moment. On this album, he has for the first time, recorded a cover song; a sincere acoustic take of Marvin Gaye’s chestnut “What’s Going On” that focuses on the poignant message of the lyric. It features the tenor sax of Chi-town transplant, Dez Desormeaux, and is right at home amid the rest of this original work. The end result with Carry It Up is a lush recording that is positively brimming with superb song craft, gutsy pop-jazz and soul, created by a master craftsman and his world class band.