Life Journey

Life Journey

by Leon Russell


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Prior to his Elton John-endorsed career resurrection via the 2010 duet album The Union, Leon Russell cranked out self-released oddities to little notice. Once The Union again made Russell a draw, there was little chance that he would revive his MIDI keyboards, and Life Journey indeed stays far, far away from those cramped, tinny settings, preferring to revive the loose-limbed, woolly Tulsan rock & roll that made his reputation. Working with Tommy LiPuma -- a veteran producer who had never recorded with Russell but who helmed many successful jazz sessions, including George Benson's Grammy-winning Breezin' -- Russell primarily sticks to standards, whether they're by Robert Johnson, Hoagy Carmichael, or Billy Joel, and that's how it should be. Although he's a fine songwriter, as evidenced here by his two originals -- "Big Lips" and "Down in Dixieland," raucous numbers both -- Russell is a stylist, bending songs to fit his swinging piano and slow drawl. He may occasionally follow a straight line with a ballad but he knows how to draw out the phrases on "That Lucky Old Sun," finding an unexpected contour in familiar melody, and he finds funk in "Come On in My Kitchen" while tearing up "Fever" and leaving "New York State of Mind" as a splashy big-band celebration of the Big Apple. This small list suggests how Life Journey touches upon much of the music Russell has sung over the years -- it's heavy on R&B, blues, jazz, and swing, but strangely lacking in much country -- and LiPuma is a perfect match for this celebratory approach. Where The Union occasionally veered toward the austere, Life Journey is robust and soulful, emphasizing the raggedness of Russell's voice and smooth boogie in his playing. It's a joyous thing to hear, a record that recaptures much of the magic of Leon's Shelter records without being fussy.

Product Details

Release Date: 04/01/2014
Label: Blue Note Records
UPC: 0602537764716
catalogNumber: 2032602
Rank: 35398

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Leon Russell   Primary Artist,Piano,Vocals,Background Vocals
Robben Ford   Guitar
Larry Goldings   Hammond B3
Jeff Hamilton   Drums
Rickey Woodard   Tenor Saxophone
Louis Price   Background Vocals
Clay Jenkins   Trumpet
Elena Barere   Concert Master
Lee Callet   Tenor Saxophone
Gilbert Castellanos   Trumpet
Alvin Chea   Background Vocals
Jeff Clayton   Clarinet,Alto Saxophone
John Clayton   Bass,Conductor
Sal Cracchiolo   Trumpet
Keith Fiddmont   Alto Saxophone
James Gordon   Clarinet
Greg Leisz   Pedal Steel Guitar
Darrell Leonard   Trumpet,Flugelhorn
Hugh McCracken   Guitar,Soloist
Perry Morgan   Background Vocals
Ira Nepus   Trombone
Maurice Spears   Bass Trombone
Willie Weeks   Bass
Christoph Luty   Bass
Anthony Wilson   Guitar
Chris Simmons   Slide Guitar
Abe Laboriel   Drums
George Bohanon   Trombone
Charles Owens   Tenor Saxophone
James Ford   Trumpet
Graham Dechter   Acoustic Guitar
Ryan Porter   Trombone
Bijon Watson   Trumpet
William Cantos   Background Vocals

Technical Credits

Paul Anka   Composer
Hoagy Carmichael   Composer
Billy Joel   Composer
Elton John   Executive Producer
Leon Russell   Composer,Liner Notes
Alan Broadbent   String Arrangements
Johnny Fuller   Composer
Jill Dell'Abate   String Contractor
John Clayton   Arranger
Duke Ellington   Composer
Haven Gillespie   Composer
Robert "P-Nut" Johnson   Composer
Mark Lambert   Vocal Engineer,Piano Engineer
Tommy LiPuma   Producer
Mike Reid   Composer
Schmitt   Engineer
Paul Francis Webster   Composer
Allie Wrubel   Composer
John Davenport   Composer
Stuart Gorrell   Composer
Eddie Cooley   Composer
Robert Geddins   Composer
Brian Montgomery   Engineer,Pro-Tools
Beasley Smith   Composer
David Rosenbaum   Composer
Chandler Harrod   Engineer,Pro-Tools
Herb Magidson   Composer

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