While Francis Cabrel (guitar), Denys Lable (guitar), Michael Jones (guitar), Patrick Verbeke(guitar), Claude Engel (guitar), Slim Batteux (keyboard), Gerard Bikualo (keyboard), Claude Salmieri (drums), Bernard Paganotti (bass), Pascal Mikaelian (harmonica), and Beverly Jo Scott (vocals) may never obtain the status of their famous guests, they show they're every bit as talented and passionate about the blues as any group of players from North America. This concert was the culmination of a week's worth of festivities celebrating New Morning's twenty-fifth anniversary in 2006 and the result is a hundred minute plus concert of great blues music, being played for the sheer fun of playing.
When you get as many as seven guitar players on stage at once it can get awfully crowded and the chances of it turning into a pissing contest seems to be good. Yet, somehow these folk have been able to leave that sort of shit behind and nobody tries to "outgun" anybody when they play. Of course, you hardly ever get all seven on stage at once, but there's always at least three guitars up. While one player ( I believe it was Claude Engel, but I'm not sure as it's hard to tell from the photos in the liner notes who is who) was content to handle the majority of the rhythm guitar duties for the night, and occasionally playing a mean slide, everybody else soloed at least once while on stage.
My biggest complaint about so many blues based guitar solos is how many guys just seem to live to bend the really high notes and forget about the rest of the frets. So, I was really impressed by the fact that no matter who from among Autour Du Blues turn it was to solo, they would make use of the guitar's entire neck. They put on an absolute clinic on how to get the most out of your guitar during a solo; instead of worrying about speed, and playing more notes then the human ear can possibly hear, these guys showed how great it sounds when you linger over a note.
The two keyboard players, Gerard who played electric piano and Slim on organ, made sure that it didn't turn into just a guitar festival, by being every bit as good as their companions. Gerard's piano playing was especially good, as he ran off a couple of really nicely played solos. Slim also handled a lot of the vocal duties, and showed himself to have a really good voice for the blues. The only real disappointment of the evening was the vocalist Beverly Jo Scott, who just didn't have the breath support to give her singing the strength that is required.