Professor Louie & The Crowmatix -
by Janet Goodman
Professor Louie & The Crowmatix is a team of talented musicians who have backed solo projects for Rick Danko and Garth Hudson – members of the legendary group, The Band. Their ninth album on Woodstock Records, “Whispering Pines”, is an eclectic collection of classic covers, original blues, live and studio performances, and collaborations with full orchestras.
Aaron “Professor Louie” Hurwitz is co-producer, engineer and performer on The Band’s last three albums: “Jericho”, “High on the Hog” and “Jubilation”; overall, his discography credits are too many to mention. Strongly and unapologetically influenced by their work with THE original Americana/Rock band, Professor Louie & The Crowmatix take us on a musical trip up to the Catskill Mountains of New York, where the legacy lives on.
Two of the ten CD tracks are their versions of The Band’s “Whispering Pines” and “The Weight”. Louie’s wistful and haunting vocals on “Pines” and flavorful Hammond organ on the recorded-live “Weight” make for must-listening for The Band fans.
Warren Zevon hit “Nightime in the Switchin’ Yard” showcases Louie’s glorious Hammond, as well as the stinging guitar playing by Josh Colow(Jesse Winchester, Livingston Taylor). Musicianship is crazy on this record, most notably horn sections on their original’s hip and hooky chorus in “Between Midnight & Two”, and “The Weight”.
Miss Marie, aka Marie Spinosa, shares lead vocals with Professor Louie. Her earthy and expressive lyric interpretation of her song co-written with Louie, “I Wouldn’t Do It That Way”, is rootsy/bluesy rock at her best. Warm and worthy soulful vocals by Marie on Leonard Cohen’s “In My Secret Life” shine through and if she hasn’t let down her hair by the time Bob Dylan’s “Serve Somebody” rolls around, she does now on this defiant, but addictive live-R&B version.
The last track is performed and recorded with the Czech Radio Symphony and Kuhn Choir in Prague, Czech Republic; Louie and Marie’s raw voices, juxtaposed against the full orchestra and polished choir, create an enchanting universal plea on “Melody of Peace”.
Their band is rounded out by Gary Burke (Bob Dylan, Joe Jackson) on drums and Frank Campbell (Asleep at the Wheel) on bass. Extra flourish by Louie on accordion is just an example of how the players add their individual stamp to this project. The live-recording energy and that recognizable groove should capture hearts of The Band aficionados everywhere.
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