Jools Holland And José Feliciano: As You See Me Now


Jools Holland and José Feliciano
As You See Me Now
(East West Records)

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Jools Holland and his Rhythm and Blues Orchestra pretty much release music around the end of the year, every year. This time the ex-Squeeze keyboardist/UK music-variety show host has teamed up with José Feliciano for this 14-song holiday treat, As You See Me Now.

A stride piano title track opens up, proving that the great band Holland has behind him is equal to the task of blending with Feliciano’s still very distinctive voice, and amazingly fiery finger guitar playing. The guys ramble through a conga-groove infused read on Stevie Wonder/Stephanie Andrews’ “Treat Myself,” and a jumpy piano jive, “Honeysuckle Rose” instrumental.

We get some Feliciano standards like “Let’s Find Each Other Night,” slightly updated with Holland helping out in the chorus, and with a solid organ upfront. Feliciano’s read on Lennon and Macartney’s “In My Life,” and the holiday favorite, “Feliz Navidad,” (which comes in second to last) are perfect to include on an album released leading into December. It’s updated here with the big band and full multi-layered vocals. “One More Drink,” again has another fine Holland piano performance up front, big backing vocals, maybe José ‘s best lead, and undulating horns with subtle organ. It’s a real highlight.

The flickin’ chuck of Jools Holland’s “Happy New Year,” ends As You See Me Now, again presenting the main guest of Holland’s 2017 release, José Feliciano front and center.

The playing here is of a high order, the production superb, and the mix of Holland and Feliciano every bit as sparkling as one would expect when talents like this meet.

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