CD review by Roger-Z (05/18/07)
Appeared in More Sugar, June 2007, P. 8A
The world loves musical child prodigies. The juxtaposition of an adult voice and a child's body piques people's interest.
Take Johnny Lang, LeAnne Rimes, Stevie Wonder, and Tanya Tucker. Remember a fifteen year-old Stevie Winwood
singing "Gimme Some Lovin'?" Now comes twenty-two year-old Dave Gross who first burst on the scene at sixteen. I witnessed his
appearance in the 2005 NY Blues and Jazz Society's Battle of the Bands and thought he should have won. Playing the white telecaster
pictured on the back of his CD, he astounded me with his sophisticated approach to the slow blues using cross-meter jazz flurries.
And he never missed a chord change!
Rocket a few years forward and we find our prodigy releasing his second CD, "Take The Gamble," produced by guitar wizard
Duke Robillard of the original Roomful of Blues. Billed as a "blues and swing" record, it demonstrates all the varying shades
of 1-4-5 rhythms, with, you guessed it, a preponderance of shuffles! Gross wrote nine out of the thirteen tunes.
Virtually all of the blues on this record deal with love. Money doesn't seem to be an issue. Good for him!
Attacking each tune with a clear vocal vibrato and a clean, mostly Telecaster attack, Dave Gross lays his stuff right out front.
No hiding behind layers of slick production. The band consists of Dona Oxford on keys, Arthur Neilson and A.J. Hager on bass,
and Matt Mousseau and Mark Teixeira on drums. Guests include Duke Robillard on guitar, Doug James on sax, Al Basile on cornet and
Dennis Gruenling on harp.
Gross presents a humorous look at romance. Take the New Orleans sounding "Mess On My Plate." "I forgot to leave you baby and now
it's too late. Now I'm stuck here pretty mama with a mess on my plate." Switching to a more modern rock beat in "That's All You Get,"
Gross sings "My life's been a puzzle and you don't fit. Hate to break the news but that's all you get!" He hits some stinging,
repeated single notes at the apex of his guitar solo. In T-Bone Walker's "I Know Your Wig Is Gone" he proclaims, "Somebody told you to be
different but they sure did tell you wrong. Cause when you start assaulting me for my gold, mama, I know your wig is gone."
The tune features good old-time cornet and a sly, sophisticated, chromatic guitar solo. Gross takes a stab at chicken-picking in the country,
two-beat "Once Had A Girl" -- "She lit me up and I felt alive, stabbed my heart with a thousand knives. Once had a girl who
made me act a fool." On "Make Things Right," Gross breaks out of the swing mold with a soulful, swampy, slow blues making
great use of dynamics.
On this CD, Gross manages to mold his disparate, musical influences into a unified, singular, vision of the blues. His music should
continue to grow even deeper as he soaks up life on the road in the music business.