Grand Marquis

Grand Marquis
Hold on to Me

Grand Marquis Music

By Lady K
January 2011

As I was listening to “Hold on to Me” while driving through Christmas-shopper traffic the other day, I realized that I had discovered a new standard for music quality. The band, Grand Marquis, is so much fun that I found that I didn’t hate that there were other people in my way, the streets were congested, there was no place to park, or that it was taking forever to get anywhere. Grand Marquis’ music is a celebration of all that is jazz, blues, and New Orleans, played by 5 people projecting a very big-band sound. Bryan Redmond - songwriter, vocals, and all 4 saxophones; Chad Boydston – trumpet and backing vocals; Ryan Wurtz – guitar, backing vocals; Ben Ruth – upright bass, sousaphone, backing vocals; Lisa McKenzie – percussion and backing vocals.

The first thing Lady K noticed about Grand Marquis is that they let their music have the first ‘word.’ Just about every track has an instrumental intro, which builds excitement and curiosity for the tune that follows. And every tune has long, instrumental riffs,showcasing band members exceedingly comfortable with all facets of the sounds that they produce – vocals and instrumentation. There are 10 very nicely done covers, and three original tunes by Bryan Redmond: “Night is for Lovers,” the title tune “Hold on to Me,” and “Ain’t No Good to Me.” “Night is for Lovers” is the first track, and it sets the tone of the CD. It’s romance, performed to jumpin’ jive music, with great emphasis on sax and stand-up bass riffs. “Ain’t No Good To Me” is a song about goodbye, but it’s a cheerful goodbye (the decision’s been made - he’s outta there).

The big-band ethic of this CD continues with the well-chosen covers – all decades old, instantly recognizable and completely infectious. “Topsy” is huge and a great brass-heavy instrumental, and the enticing “The Spider and the Fly” lures that fly willingly into the web of the music. “After You’ve Gone,” “Dinah,” and “Exactly Like You” all include the big band sound with New Orleans’ tempos (Lady K kept expecting the saints to come marching in). “St. James Infirmary Blues” segued into “Still Blue Water,” and brought visions of funeral processions in New Orleans – the real celebrations of life.

Lady K does have a favorite tune on this CD – the one that keeps her hitting ‘replay’ over and over again (it highlights both the sousaphone (!!) and some fantastic flamenco guitar), but that ain’t all. Grand Marquis’ version of Pablo Ruiz’ “Sway” is hypnotic. It begs to be played loud, it begs to be danced to (mambo, anyone?); it’s the most fun tune on a CD of completely infectious “old-time,” jumping, swinging jazz and blues.

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