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Blues from 2004 – Dave Specter and Steve Freund – Is What It Is!

Steve Freund and Dave SpecterSo I first became aware of blues guitarist Dave Specter a few years ago, when I listened to his album Live in Chicago. It’s been on the iPod and when songs come up on random shuffle, I’m always thinking about how much I like his work! Anyway, his guitar can be heard on a couple of albums that I’ve been listening to lately, one is a new one from harmonica player Al Miller ..In Between Time and the other Knockin’ Around These Blues with John Primer and Bob Corritore, both good albums. Well, somewhere in the last week or so, I came across another Chicago Bluesman Steve Freund and his latest release Come On In this House and I’ve been listening to it since then. When I was looking for Freund’s album on MOG, I also saw that Specter and Freund had released an album together back in 2004, titled Is What it Is. So I gave that a listen , too. What do they say, that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. In this case it’s two guitars are better than one, as friends Steve Freund and his former pupil Dave Specter, join together for a really fabulous album (IMHO). From the Delmark press release for the album:

….Freund grew up playing along side such stalwarts as harpist Big Walter Horton, pianist Pinetop Perkins and former Howlin’ Wolf guitarist Hubert Sumlin. Most notably he was Sunnyland Slim’s right hand man, playing with the blues piano legend on virtually every gig from 1978 to Slim’s death in 1995.

As for Specter: From his website:

Before forming his own band in 1989, Specter toured extensively throughout the U.S. and Europe behind such blues greats as Son Seals, The Legendary Blues Band, Hubert Sumlin, Sam Lay and Steve Freund. Specter has also performed and recorded with such blues and jazz artists as Buddy Guy, Junior Wells, Otis Rush, Jimmy Rogers, Robert Jr. Lockwood, Jimmy Johnson, Jack McDuff, Johnny Adams, Snooky Pryor, Kim Wilson, Tad Robinson, John Primer, Johnny Littlejohn, B.B. Odom, Mighty Joe Young, Valerie Wellington, Magic Slim, Lonnie Brooks, Willie Kent, Ronnie Earl, Eric Alexander, Otis Clay, Floyd McDaniel, Pinetop Perkins and Sunnyland Slim.

Together they form a dynamic duo with great chemistry. There are several great tracks written and sung by Steve Freund, along with some great instrumentals, including new spins on “People Get Ready” and “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”, and the title track “Is What It Is”.

Specter and Freund are helped out by some friends on the album including: West Coast harp ace Mark Hummel, Chicago keyboardist Barrelhouse Chuck, bassist Harlan Terson, drummer Marty Binder and last but not least there’s Hammond B3 organist Rob Waters whose playing interweaves between the two guitars masterfully!

Overall, I love this album from the first track to the last!! I’m sorry though that it took me 9 years to find it!!

Here’s the closing track from the album “She Needs Some Loving” with some great piano from Barrelhouse Chuck!