by Donald Rumpert
Alive and Ornery, ok that might be true, but what I am noticing is prolific succession of releases in one year. Alive and Ornery, is on the heels of Scott Rammingers February of 2017 release Do What Your Heart Says To. This time around Ramminger serves up a double-disc-live.
Staying true to his previous releases, Alive and Ornery is firmly rooted in blues and R&B, with elements of roots rock, Americana, sprinkled with other musical styles, featuring 15 tunes across two discs — ten of them Ramminger’s originals, including one new tune, and five covers.
Joined by Pete Ragusa, on drums; Chris Brown on bass; Vince McCool on trumpet; Clarence “The Blues Man” Turner, David Kitchen, and Keith Grimes on guitar; Wes Lanich and Ariel Francis on keys, together these musicians shine.
“I Really Love Your Smile,” is the first cut, a mid-tempo groove that sports a cheeky lyric – what Ramminger seems to excel at most, good writing and witty lyrics that keep your attention. Ariel Francis, takes a whirl on the keys for the solo, with Clarence “Bluesman” Turner, keeping it gritty and relaxed on guitar. Ramminger’s voice is non-nonsense, an honest an organic voice that tells the story with conviction.
A righteous Ramminger original offers a blues shuffle, on tap with “Annandale Girl.” Wes Lanich lays an organ solo out showing his chops and solid driving rhythms. Keith Grimes soars on guitar, evoking some Chuck Berry moments of tone. This track cooks, the gas is on full blast and each musician is bringing their best BBQ sauce to the cook-off. Seasoned just right!
I have to admit I am a sucker for a good funk tune. “Funkier Than Him,” allows Ramminger to once again, stretch his prolific pen and take an honest spin into his funkalicious attributes. This tune highlights Chris Brown’s skillful abilities on bass, his bass pops and locks with a solid groove and his attack on his solo is straight up sizzling. Once again Clarence “Bluesman” Turner lends his authentic sound to the tune. Pete Ragusa, locks tight with Brown and the groove deepens as Ramminger continues to profess his old school charms.
“Ain’t Gonna Do It,” written by Dave Bartholomew & [his wife] …. Pearl King. Dave and his wife Pearl King had written nearly 100 songs together. The tune has been recorded by such artists as: Smiley Lewis, Roy Brown, The Pelicans and Fats Domino. Ramminger keeps it light and uplifted. Ariel Francis, colorizes the first chorus, while Ramminger himself opens the solo section with his tenor sax. Romping and rolling through the changes, adding bluesy notes and a great trade off section with guitarist Clarence “Bluesman” Turner.
Overall, solid songwriting prevails on this offering. Ramminger’s originals are well-crafted and light-hearted, and keep the live audience entranced throughout the program of fifteen tunes. The well-chosen covers only serve to highlight Ramminger’s abilities as a solid contemporary songwriter. It’s a feel-good album that brings a chuckle to your soul with its amusing lyrics and band that is a well-oiled group. Another key element in the success of this album. Clearly, it’s not a bunch of session cats, you can feel and hear the camaraderie among the players. Ramminger’s tunes are a prodigious vehicle to get the show on the road. Well done, a delightfully fun listen.