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Album Review: Blue West
Philip Aaberg
Cover image of the album Blue West by Philip Aaberg
Blue West
Philip Aaberg
2005 / Sweetgrass Music
72 minutes
Review by Kathy Parsons
A new album from Philip Aaberg is a musical event, and this one is major! After a flurry of releases in 2000, things were a little quiet, so when I heard Blue West was on its way, I was really excited! I’ve been listening to it for a week now, and absolutely love it! I’m a big fan of piano blues, and the occasional blues tracks that have been included on past releases from Aaberg have been among my favorites. A whole album of his original blues is a joy to behold! One of the best pianists on the planet, Aaberg has always been true to his muse no matter what everyone else is doing, earning him the highest respect as an artist.

The fourteen tracks on Blue West range from rollicking barrelhouse to slinky blues to pieces that really aren’t blues at all, but fit right in anyway. “Keep Walkin’” opens the CD with a big blues piece that is both contemporary and traditional, as well as soulful and fun. My first reaction to it was “Oh goody - it really is a blues album!” “Sea Level Shuffle (part 1)” cranks it up a notch, showcasing Aaberg’s breathtaking chops. Aaberg obviously loves trains, and “That Train” expresses the rhythmic joy of this form of travel as well as its power. “Rocky Boy Blues” is dark, sensual, and spellbinding. Love it! “Double Back At ‘Ya” begins as a quiet ballad, becomes a boogie woogie piece, and then continues to alternate between the two styles - it’s amazing how Aaberg makes this work, tying the passages together with improvisations. “Take Your Time” is a bluesy ballad of a more introspective nature. “The Dream of Montana Taylor” begins with an old recording of Mr. Taylor singing his own “I Can’t Sleep,” segueing to the sound of footsteps and then of a piano bench being moved. The music that follows is a slow, dreamy piece that reminds me a little of Aaberg’s earlier “Slow Dance.” “Fourteen Dollars” brings us back to full-tilt energetic blues - I’d love to know the story behind the title! “Wumper’s Old Man” inspires a big grin - what a fun piece with the walking bass and joyful right hand. As much as I love this whole album, Aaberg saved my favorite for last. “Coyote Midnight Blues” is slow, dark, and very earthy. What a great album!!!!

Bravo to Philip Aaberg for another great album, and one that is truly unique! Samples of some of the songs are at www.sweetgrassmusic.com, and Blue West is also available at amazon.com. Very highly recommended!
July 10, 2005