Eric Clapton decided to pay homage to one of his teachers, JJ Cale, who died just over a year ago at the age of 74 years. It was released in fact “The Breeze: An Appreciation of JJ Cale”, a collection of sixteen songs composed by the guitarist of Tulsa, played and sung by many “devout” summoned by “slowhand”: among others, Mark Knofler, Tom Petty, John Mayer, Willie Nelson. In the disc have not entered the most famous songs of Cale, such as “Cocaine” and “After Midnight”, brought to world success by Clapton. But despite this, it is configured as a rare gem. Not only because – as we have seen – the songs are interpreted by some of the most important exponents of blues music and folk-rock. But mainly because the ladder defines the individuality of Cale, that “Tulka sound” features guitars in the foreground, rhythmic and melodic at the same time, a relaxed atmosphere and almost in a whisper to make a frame at a steady pace and vaguely hypnotic . A scenario in which the voice of Cale fell perfectly: deep, hoarse, whispered, suspended between setting “talking” and the hint (which seemed almost recovered from a remote area of his soul) of melodies rarefied and never predictable.
Eric Clapton had directly collaborated with the guitarist of Tulsa, Oklahoma, only in 2006 after an extraordinary meeting, which took place in 2004 at the Crossroad festival. The occasion was “Road to Escondido,” the album dedicated to Billy Preston, extraordinary keyboardist who died in June of that year and who had played with all the major (including the Beatles and the Rolling Stones) of the international rock scene. The album received particular praise from both audiences and critics, coming to win a Grammy Award for best contemporary blues album.
With “The Breeze” Eric Clapton – who, along with Simon Climie, is also the producer of the album – invites us into a world of criminally unheard, but that has a lot to say. As some critics have written, the style of Cale coincides with his character and his restless soul. It is a style free of formalisms, full of references to American traditions sound (blues and folk, but also country and rock) that Cale is able to absorb, mix and interpret original, based on a “healthy provincialism” and independent that, in the wake of his guitar technique (the sound suffused, the firm touch and rhythmic), it remains unchanged, even in the new representations that have given Eric Clapton & Friends.
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