Johnnie Bassett - I Can Make That Happen
Every once in awhile the phrase "get the blues" takes on a meaning that goes beyond the feelings you get when you're suffering from money or relationship woes. Now is one of those times as word has just come that Johnnie Bassett, a long-standing fixture on the Detroit and indeed the world's blues scene, has died. Bassett passed at the age of 76 on August 4 of complications brought on by liver cancer. If you're not (yet) familiar with Bassett's work, there's still a good chance that you've enjoyed music that he influenced. You see, Bassett lived in Seattle in the '60s and there he hosted a weekly Sunday night jam session where one particular young man would always show up to listen to his licks and quiz him about guitar tunings, etc. That young man was Jimi Hendrix. Bassett left behind a brand new work which is briefly reviewed below.
The only song on I Can Make That Happen where Bassett gets top billing in the co-writing credits is, appropriately enough, the funky and strutting ode to his hometown "Proud to Be from Detroit." Bassett uses the song to joyfully tick off reasons to dig the Motor City: powerful sports teams, fine women, and lastly, perhaps as not to be perceived as tooting his own horn too loudly, the music scene. Of course blues and braggadocio go hand-in-hand and Bassett isn't above getting a little naughty on the double entendre-filled "Spike Boy" and the all around "I'm your superman, baby" vibe of the title cut. "Cry To Me" is a slow-swaying R&B seduction, the instrumental "Teach Me to Love" straddles the line between jazz and blues with Bassett turning the treble way up and giving his organ player Chris Codish and the Motor City Horns plenty of room for solos and fills while "Cha'Mon!" has a Dr. John feel to it. I Can Make That Happen is definitely filled with buoyant music and the great many folks who enjoy B.B. King-style blues should do themselves a favor and check this (probably final) Bassett release out.