Home Read Classic Album Review: Jeff Healey | Among Friends

Classic Album Review: Jeff Healey | Among Friends

The Canadian blues-rock guitar hero indulges his lifelong jones for traditional jazz.

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This came out in 2002 – or at least that’s when I got it. Here’s what I said about it back then (with some minor editing):

 


Blues-rock has paid Jeff Healey’s bills, but it’s traditional jazz that stirs his soul. And now that his rock-star days seem to be behind him, Healey has the time (and presumably the money) to indulge his lifelong obsession. On the self-released Among Friends, he does so artfully.

Ditching the power trio for a big band and digging deep into his 78 crates for material, Healey offers up a slate of swinging oldies and Tin Pan Alley classics by the likes of Johnny Mercer (Lost), Hoagy Carmichael (Star Dust) and Earl Hines (Blues in Thirds), authenticlaly reproducing them right down to the clacky standup basses, splashy cymbals, freewheeling ragtime horns and his own strummy acoustic guitar and raspy crooning. Sure, it’s a couple of years too late for the retro-swing bandwagon — and it would probably make a bigger impact if Squirrel Nut Zippers hadn’t already turned up a lot of the same ground. But this is still a swell little album by a guy who’s doing what he loves, whether it pays or not. And you gotta dig that.