By Kenzie Love
This posthumous release from guitarist/vocalist Jeff Healey is a pleasantly upbeat 14 song collection of 1920s and 1930s swinging jazz numbers. While most listeners know Healey as a blues rock guitar player, he did form the Jazz Wizards in 2002 and recorded three swing albums with them by 2006, playing trumpet and guitar. It’s no secret that this style was Healey’s true musical love and it’s fortunate he was able to record these tracks before he died of cancer in 2008 at the age of 41.
Last Call is culled from solo, duo and trio sessions from 2007 that feature Healey on vocals, guitar and trumpet, Drew Juecka on violin and Ross Wooldridge on piano and clarinet. Despite the lack of a rhythm section, this sparse line-up breezes through the material like it’s a walk in the park. In fact, the music is perfect listening for a walk in the park. The majority of the arrangements are joyous and leave plenty of room for virtuosic soloing from all three of these top notch players. Healey’s earnest vocals come across in a very sincere and soulful manner, as if he had been singing these tunes the entirety of his short life.
The enhanced CD also includes a rousing bonus video of “I’m Gonna Sit Right Down And Write Myself A Letter,” recorded live at Healey’s Roadhouse in Toronto with the Jazz Wizards in 2007.
As listeners will ultimately discover, Last Call goes down smooth.