Duke Robillard has always had one foot in the blues world and one in the swing/jazz universe. He loves both styles of music and enjoys not only playing them separately but combining them together. The founder of Roomful of Blues back in 1967, Robillard has led dozens of projects throughout his career, including collaborations with guitarist Herb Ellis, Jimmy Witherspoon, and Jay McShann. On A Swingin Session, he plays with some of his favorite musicians, many of whom originated (like he did) in Rhode Island. While six horn players participate, there are no more than four on any one selection, and some numbers do not have any. The contrasting tenor solos are fun to hear, with Scott Hamilton sounding smooth and mellow on his numbers while Sax Gordon is greasier and much closer to Illinois Jacquet. Present throughout are Bruce Katz (mostly on organ), one of three bassists (usually Marty Ballou), and drummer Mark Teixeira. Robillard takes vocals on half of the selections in his personable way, but it is his guitar solos, which hint at both Charlie Christian and T-Bone Walker, that often take honors.
Who says you can’t make a great record in one day — or night, as the case may be? The Trinity Session was recorded in one night using one microphone, a DAT recorder, and the wonderful acoustics of the Holy Trinity in Toronto. Interestingly, it’s the album that broke the Cowboy Junkies in the United States for their version of “Sweet Jane,” which included the lost verse. It’s far from the best cut here, though. There are other covers, such as Margo Timmins’ a cappella read of the traditional “Mining for Gold,” a heroin-slow version of Hank Williams’ classic “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry,” “Dreaming My Dreams With You” (canonized by Waylon Jennings), and a radical take of the Patsy Cline classic “Walkin’ After Midnight” that closes the disc.