Gamble Brothers Comin'
The album follows the Gamble Brothers Band’s previous Archer Records disc, Back to the Bottom, which gleaned favorable reviews and comparisons with the likes of Booker T & the MG’s and The Meters. The band is comprised of Memphis keyboard player Al Gamble, his brother Chad Gamble on drums, tenor saxophonist Art Edmaiston and bassist Blake Rhea. The band revels in the space and freedom afforded by the absence of guitar.
Al and Chad gamble grew up in Tuscumbia, Ala., within spitting distance of Southern soul mecca Muscle Shoals. The other two members hail from Memphis and surrounding environs. The two Gambles plied their craft backing up such Southern denizens as The Bar-Kays, Irma Thomas, Syl Johnson, Rufus Thomas, Johnnie Bassett and the Memphis Horns. Edmaiston toured from the VFW post in Lake Charles, La. to Harlem’s Apollo Theater as a member of the Bobby “Blue” Bland Orchestra and on Jonny Lang’s Grammy-winning Lie to Me.
You’ll find their indigenous inspirations displayed proudly and impeccably on Continuator and in the GBB’s scintillating live performances — flavors cooked up and marinated to perfection several decades ago at Fame Studios in Muscle Shoals, Memphis’ Stax Volt and Hi, Allen Toussaint’s studio in New Orleans and wherever Ray Charles and his band set up.
“My dad had the Genius of Ray Charles and Modern Sounds in Country & Western Music, along with some Jimmy Smith albums and a bunch of Verve Forecast stuff,” Al recalls, “and I wore them out. I grew up in the ’80s, and I couldn’t relate to the music on the radio, so those records were my salvation.”
But this band isn’t interested in merely replicating the past or geographically confining its reference points, although they readily acknowledge that they’re paying tribute to the great soul acts. “We try to further the heritage,” says Edmaiston.
Expect the aptly titled Continuator to further up the ante for a savvy, surefooted band that, as the title indicates, continues to follow its own path. As Al succinctly puts it, “We let the music tell us where to go.” For this super-tasty band, the music is proving to be one helluva guide.