– Welcome to the first in a series of entries outlining some of what we feel is the ‘essential’ Jeff Healey, be it a particular performance on a television show, album, song or guest session…
Last Call – 2010 Stony Plain
We begin with Jeff Healey’s final jazz album, ‘Last Call’. Recording took place over several weeks in the beginning of 2007 and barring minor tweaks as per Jeff’s wishes, mixing and mastering was completed just prior to Jeff’s passing in 2008 (culminating in a 2010 release on the Stony Plain label with the enthusiastic blessing of Jeff’s estate). Although Jeff would be gone just a year from the final note being played on this album, this is not the performance of a dying man. This is the performance of a man alive and very much in love with music… and with each of the songs that he hand-picked for this album.
Much has been said about Jeff’s turn towards recording jazz (beginning in 2002 with ‘Among Friends’). Far from ‘hating’ or ‘becoming disillusioned with the world of rock’ as some have stated, it was the business of the music industry that caused him to walk away for a while, but even then, he still continued to perform live and guest on other’s rock and blues recordings for the entire post-‘Jeff Healey Band’ period. What sets this music apart, is that to Jeff, it represented a measure of freedom somewhat unattainable throughout the ‘80s and ‘90s in his other music career… With Jazz, he was not only free to indulge in one of his great passions, he was also able to finally record what he wanted, with whom he wanted, with no outside interference whatsoever.
From the sweet melancholia of such standards as ‘Autumn In New York’, to the intense virtuosity of ‘Hong Kong Blues’ and the brilliant ‘Guitar Duet Stomp’, Jeff’s unmistakeable passion for the material shines through in every note.
Jeff handles all guitars, vocals and trumpet and as with the choice of tunes, Jeff wisely chose to invite along Drew Jurecka, who’s violin is on brilliant display for three songs and Ross Wooldridge, backing Jeff on piano (& clarinet on ‘Keeping Myself For You’) with restrained flourish for five of the cuts.
The Juno Award nominated ‘Last Call’ is one of Jeff Healey’s shining career highlights featuring some of his greatest performances on record. It is also his most deeply personal record, a stunning labour of love from start to finish…
A highly recommended treasure. ~Rog
‘Some Of These Days’:
‘Guitar Duet Stomp’:
Last Call – Track list:
1. Holding My Honey’s Hand
2. Time On My Hands
3. The Wildcat
4. You Can’t Pull The Wool Over My Eyes
5. Deep Purple
6. Hong Kong Blues
7. Pennies From Heaven
8. Autumn In New York
9. I’m Gonna Sit Right Down And Write Myself A Letter
10. Black And Blue Bottom
11. Guitar Duet Stomp
13. Keeping Myself For You
14. Some Of These Days