“Togged to the Bricks”
According to Lee Pons, in Cab Calloway speak, “Togged to the Bricks” meant “dressed to the nines” or dressed to kill. On this new CD, Lee’s piano certainly kills. The production is sparse, but the sound is huge even though there are only piano and vocals. If you walked into a club, sat down and closed your eyes you might think you were hearing Jelly Roll Morton at the piano but when the vocals came, you would expect to see Leon Russell instead. Then you open your eyes and there sits Lee Pons.
For those of you unfamiliar with Lee Pons’ work, here is a brief history. Born in New Orleans and classically trained at Juilliard, he has pursued mostly New Orleans flavored music. His playing is deft, rollicking, and powerful. His vocals are like a Leon Russell and Husky Burnette stew: simmering, then the explosion of goodness, leaving you wanting more. He has issued a number of discs previously, including “Big Boogie Voodoo” and “Strides N Rags”. Put simply, he is a modern master.
On this new CD, Pons is more bluesy than previous outings. Also, as his former record label Mind Balm Records has closed down, he is putting this CD out on his own. The music (and technique) runs the gamut from barrel-house to gospel. Standout tracks include a whimsical “Juke Joints, Ladies and Whiskey”, a slow Leon Russell like “Goodbye”, the jazzy blues of “This Old Piano (Round Midnight)” and the excellent “Boogie For Pinetop”. The playing on this album is just exceptional and the vocals are heartfelt; there is nothing forced or added for embellishment here. Do yourself a favor and buy this …
Lee resides in St. Petersburg, FL and frequently plays in the area. For more on Lee Pons and his music:
(Originally Published on Tuesday, May 1, 2012)