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The Tall Paul Band: Sleeper (Self-released) 

Blues guitarist Tall Paul Webner has been flying under the local radar for more than 20 years, playing off nights in bars often well off the beaten path. Yet, mention his name to any number of working musicians, and the response is often, "Man, that guy can play!" Indeed, he can, and does, on this CD of mostly original material that offers a variety of grooves, all of which are there to support Webner's energetic solos and arrangements.

Playing as a classic power-blues trio, the band at times has an authentic feel that reminds of ZZ Top or Stevie Ray Vaughan. But just when you think they have that Texas blues thing down, Webner's guitar moves effortlessly into a soaring psychedelic blues lick before moving on to something completely different. This is most evident on "Space Race," one of two ambitious instrumentals ("Don't Leave" is the other) that highlight this album. Ike Turner's "Matchbox" is a 12-bar blues tune on which Webner also gets to show off his chops—but the truth is, a great solo punctuates almost every tune.

What's nice about the solos is the variety of sounds and effects Webner has coaxed from the guitar. "Goin Back Home" is one example of how a great sound on the instrument can communicate all it needs with some simple, well-timed phrasing. Kevin Heiderman on bass and Les Merrihew on drums are great complements to Webner.

More by Jim Lipson

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