The Baddest Blues Band (Ever!)
Blues In Britain - November 2007
Breakout features fourteen titles, swinging from the off, for over seventy minutes. There are four
well-placed covers for those who need something familiar to anchor them, in spite of the fact that
all of the original titles are well with whatever limits there might be of the chosen idiom. These
are two Willie Dixon standards, and two less obvious picks, one each for Mose Allison and Nina
Simone, whose 'Do I Move You?' is a notable rendition.
The core band consists of Rob Koral on electric guitar, Zoe Schwarz on vocals and Malcolm Creese on
double bass. Hammond organ duties are split 50:50 by Mike Gorman and Stephen Darrell Smith; likewise
Dave Wallace plays drums on the same titles as Gorman and Paul Beavis plays drums on the same titles
as Smith. Si Genaro features on harmonica. His evasive bio-details' most illustrious point seems to
be that he can burp the alphabet. Thankfully he managed to discipline himself to keep this skill
quite separate from his harpistry during the times the tapes were running. In fact his musical
intelligence and skill belie his baser celebrated party-piece; it's certainly a good job he refrains
from this exploit on his excellent break during 'It's Alright To Be Blue' (Hawker/Koral).
The band members' pedigrees include performing credits with an impressive galaxy of jazz, rock, and
pop artists including: Mullen, Bruford, Tippett, Weller, Wellins, Atzmon, Fame, Witherspoon,
Daltrey, Lake, Laine, Shearing, Benson, Tormé, Allison, Sting, Williams, Essex, Fripp, and
Fairweather-Low; the list could go on ... and on ...
The Baddest Blues Band (Ever!) is an accomplished group of sophisticates playing jazzy blues. Zoe's
diction is a fraction too perfect to be in the 'dirty blues' camp (some have said the same of Paul
Jones, to little effect). You're more likely to see these guys performing in Dean Street than
'The Waitress' (Schwarz/Koral) is a good example of the writing quality and interpretation of the
songs in this collection. Hammond and guitar both display measured talent, and there's little to
choose between who's playing drums and Hammond, with the band's sound remaining consistent
throughout the set.
Blues Matters - October 2007
The Baddest Blues Band (Ever!) are certainly not, as the name might suggest, the worst blues band
(ever); in fact they are superb, a thoroughly modern mix of jazz and Blues, combining a sense of
history with their own contemporary influences. The band is based around the considerable talents of
guitarist Rob Koral who has a rock and blues background. The second main person is smooth vocalist
Zoe Schwarz who is a young classically trained singer with a BA (hons.) from the Royal Academy. To
avoid any allegations of chick singer with others, producer and bassist Malcolm Creese suggested an
ensemble approach and they recruited engineer / Hammond C3 / all round studio guy Stephen Darrell
Smith, whose delightful organ licks are layered all over this project. The final touch was to add
harmonica player Si Genaro, whose flourishes give Blues authenticity to so many of these tunes.
Talking of tunes, 9 of the 14 have band input, from the autobiographical 'The Waitress' based on
making ends meet table waiting in Covent Garden, to the poignant 'Nothing Seems To Matter', with
just a whiff of Elkie Brooks at her Bluesy best. The covers are not only wisely chosen, but are
indicative of their tastes and influences, for example a laid back version of Ray Charles' 'Someday
Baby', a near perfect interpretation of Nina Simone's 'Do I Move You?' and an aching take on Willie
Dixon's 'I Can't Quit You Babe'. What is astonishing is that this recording took place in just two
days in a Hampshire studio, mostly first take, and with the ace-in-the-hole of Schwarz pitch perfect
vocals. To all fans of quality Blues / jazz this will really appeal.
Wessex Muse - October 2007
A Dorset dwelling 'super-group' of sorts The Baddest Blues Band Ever is made up of no less than
eight musicians whose individual musical resumés include playing with some of the finest and
best-known recording artists in the music industry. Spearheaded by the persistently productive and
increasingly renowned duo Rob Koral and Zoë Schwarz, the aptly titled group's debut is a colossal
fourteen track recording of mainly original compositions with the addition of impressive covers by
artists such as Nina Simone, Ray Charles and Willie Dixon.
Recorded in just two days, the amalgamation of the various influences and styles that each musician
brings to the affray, including roots, blues, jazz and rock, means that 'Breakout' does not simply
head in one direction, but neither is it a one trick pony.
There are plenty of sensual and soulful numbers such as 'Nothing Seems to Matter' and tracks like
'Sugar and Spice' move into a funkier leg shaking affair, with Rob Koral supplying one of his subtle
and flowing guitar solos as he later gently makes room for the organ to take centre stage. The
smooth vocal talents of Zoë Schwarz are unmistakeable and she seems more than comfortable with any
arrangement be it a duo or in this case seven other musicians.
The Baddest Blues Band Ever has had a busy live schedule already this year with performances at many
prestigious events. Details of forthcoming gigs can be found on
www.myspace.com.thebaddestbluesbandever and you can purchase the album by visiting www.audio-b.com
The Marshwood Vale - September 2007
Fans of Zoë Schwarz and Rob Koral are unlikely to be disappointed with the new CD from new band The
Baddest Blues Band (Ever!). By now local jazz legends Zoë and Rob have worked together on three
previous albums: Where Did We Begin, Devil or Dove and Dancing for Miles. Although their unique
sound is augmented here by a selection of excellent new musicians, their original style is
unmistakable, especially since nine of the fourteen songs are either written or co-written by one or
both of them.
The CD, entitled Breakout, rolls into life with the Rob Koral-penned Pebble in My Pond featuring
Rob's now signature guitar sound and introducing Stephen Darrell Smith on Hammond organ. The song
takes Rob and Zoë from their traditional jazz/blues sound straight to mainstream blues and defies
any listener to avoid the temptation to get into the aisles and dance. Both Rob and Stephen trade
off solo work over a tight rhythm section from Malcolm Creese on double bass and Paul Beavis on
drums. The following song, Wiseman, written by Rob and Zoë introduces Mike Gorman on Hammond organ,
Dave Wallace on drums and Si Genaro on harmonica. While the CD showcases the versatility of both Zoë
Schwarz and Rob Koral, re-workings of songs such as Nothing Seems to Matter and The Waitress from
the Dancing for Miles CD offer a depth and power that can only come from a robust blues backing.
Si Genaro's emotive harmonica playing adds a majestic dimension to the Mose Allison cover Stop this
World and bounds along with Mike Gorman's Hammond organ on the Sue Hawker and Rob Koral tune, It's
Alright to be Blue. Powerful stuff that leaves you begging for more. And more there is, with the
hip-swaying Gimme a Break also written by Hawker and Koral - a chance for Si Genaro to trade off
with Stephen Darrell Smith's solid organ playing. Who are You to Judge Me highlights Zoë's sultry
and sassy delivery while Si Genaro's soulful harp sets the tone for a rootsy end to an elegant
musical ride. The CD ends with a cover from the inspirational bluesman Willie Dixon. Rob Koral cites
the song Spoonful as influential. He says the 16 minute version by Cream was "virtually responsible
for me playing the guitar". It's a haunting end to a powerful first CD from a bunch of musicians
that obviously had a good time making it. May they make many more. Breakout from The Baddest Blues
Band (ever) is on the Audio-B label and was produced by Malcolm Creese.