Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown was 74 when he recorded American Music, Texas Style, and the Texas bluesman made it clear that he still had plenty of energy. On this CD, Brown really emphasizes his love of jazz. Young hard bop players like trumpeter Nicholas Payton and alto saxman Wes Anderson are on board, and the veteran singer/guitarist offers no less than three standards from Duke Ellington's repertoire ("I'm Beginning to See the Light," "Don't Get Around Much Anymore," and son Mercer Ellington's "Things Ain't What They Used to Be") and two classics from Charlie Parker's years with Jay McShann ("Hootie Blues," "Jumpin' the Blues"). Meanwhile, the jazz influence is hard to miss on such fast jump blues as "Rock My Blues Away" and "Without Me Baby." Brown's voice is thinner than it used to be, but his guitar playing is as energetic as ever. While this CD isn't definitive, it's a good, solid effort that Brown can be proud of.
Some but not all of guitarist George Benson's 1966-1967 Columbia sides are included on this double LP originally released in 1976 – plus some unreleased songs and other tunes that he recorded under organist Lonnie Smith's name. Fitting into the soul-jazz/hard bop idiom, Benson is mostly heard in a quartet with organist Smith, baritonist Ronnie Cuber, and drummer Jimmy Lovelace, although some selections add horns (including trumpeter Blue Mitchell) and more players in the rhythm section. At this point, Benson was still heavily influenced by Wes Montgomery and Charlie Christian, but he already had his own approach. The majority of the songs are basic originals by Benson or Smith, and the emphasis is on soulful swinging. Fine music.