CD review by Roger-Z (01/29/06))
Appeared in More Sugar, March 2006, P. 16B
The "It" girl. They first used that phrase in the "Roaring 20's." It still applies. When Nikki Armstrong
walks down the street, heads turn. When she ascends the stage, her timeless presence titillates, captivates,
and just generally mesmerizes. This woman will funk you, blues you, and above all, rock your world. When
she coos "I Just Want To Make Love to You" -- lie down. When she begs for "Mercy, Mercy, Mercy" -- for God's sake,
just give in! Ladies, when she warns you about the "Clean Up Woman" -- take her advice. She knows.
Never underestimate this lady. She leaves nothing to chance. Acting on a last minute request by
Ms. Armstrong, house sound engineer John Mc Avoy recorded "Turnin & Burnin" direct from the sound board
at The Turning Point Cafe in Piermont, NY on April 23, 2005.
This marks the clubs first known, official, live, two-track CD release in its twenty-five year history.
Ms. Armstrong employs
the creme de la creme of NY and NJ musicians: Gil Parris (guitar),
Stew Cutler (guitar, slide), Keith Lambeth (bass), Kenny Soule (drums), and Rob Chaseman (tenor sax).
On every tune, she showcases one, if not two, of the soloists. Gil Parris practically steals the show with
his bubbling, country-on-acid solo on "I Just Wanna Make Love to You." He mystifies with progressive jazz chops on the
sultry "Summertime," and astounds with animal sounds on "Clean Up Woman."
But everybody contributes to this stellar show. Stew Cutler plays the role of
unsung hero with taught rhythm guitar. He steps into the spotlight with powerful blues playing on "For You
My Love." Tenor saxophonist Rob Chasement stamps his presence all over the record. "Rob's Sax Solo" starts on a
low flame, builds in intensity only to end in the smouldering fumes that introduce "Summertime."
The rhythm section cuts like a brand new knife. Whether playing blues, jazz, funk, or rock, Mr. Lambeth and Mr. Soule
lock in and lay it down. Armed with rhythm guitar, they provide the perfect launch pad for vocals and solos.
But in the end, the "Mistress of Ceremony" takes the crowd into her expressive little hands and provides the good
time they so richly deserve. "Respect Yourself." Want a musicial night that lifts you up, tears you down, and then reassembles you
better than ever? Catch Nikki Armstrong & Whole Lotta Blues "Turnin & Burnin" on any given evening!