“Carolina Tiger Milk,” tenor saxophonist Peter Lamb’s latest album, opens and closes with a hymn. In between are several songs from the heyday of American popular song along with a couple of originals. Various other North Carolina musicians perform from track to track with Lamb and pianist Mark Wells, giving the album the feeling of a jam session or a loosely organized variety show. Even Maceo Parker, the alto saxophonist from Kinston who for years was a mainstay in James Brown’s band, appears, on the album-ending “His Eye is on the Sparrow.”
“Just a Closer Walk with Thee,” which opens the program and is sung by the gravelly-voiced Bullfrog Willard McGhee, has an irresistible shuffling, sloshing washing-machine-like beat. This is an auspicious prelude to the rhythmic attraction of the remainder of the album. The program follows with, among others, familiar tunes such as “Smoke Rings,” “On the Sunny Side of the Street,” “Puttin’ on the Ritz,” “Basin Street Blues,” “Louisiana” and “Under Paris Skies.” Along the way we hear auspicious combinations of local musicians and fine soloists such as tenor saxophonist Stephen Riley, trumpeter Paul Rogers, trumpeter Al Strong and trombonist Lucian Cobb in addition to Lamb and Wells. Altogether this album has a happy-go-lucky quality that sticks with you.
Correspondent Owen Cordle
Peter Lamb & the Wolves
“Carolina Tiger Milk”