John Ginty featuring Aster Pheonyx
American Showplace Music
New Jersey-based keys player John Ginty has been on the music scene for years, a supporting band member for such notable acts as Jewel, Citizen Cope, Santana and Dixie Chicks, and a founding member (and two-time Grammy Award nominee) of Robert Randolph & the Family Band. With the release of his newest solo effort, Rockers, it is easy to understand why Ginty has been in such high demand with numerous established performers. Rockers is a musical tour de force of 12 tightly produced tracks with a collective hypnotic sound, where each song tells a gritty story. Coproduced by Ginty and Ben Elliott, and backed by guitarist Mike Buckman, bassist Justine Gardner and drummer Maurice “mOe” Watson (also the touring band), as well as a handful of other musicians, the record features the rich, soulful blues-soaked vocals of Aster Pheonyx. She has a texture and tone to her voice that ooze sensuality and seduce you from the first note. You literally never want her to stop singing. Ginty discovered Pheonyx in an Asbury Park, NJ bar when she came onstage to sing with the band, and the instant connection led to a full-time band position for Pheonyx.
Every number is outstanding in this heady collection, which is bookended with “The Shark” and “Rockers,” two powerful, funky instrumentals, and incidentally, the only two not cowritten by Ginty and Pheonyx but by Ginty, Gardner and Watson. What remains in between is some of the best stuff I have listened to in ages. Ginty’s eclectic Hammond B3 accents are the perfect complement to Pheonyx’s sultry crooning. Standout cuts include “Target on the Ground,” “Captain Hook,” “Mountains Have My Name,” “Priscilla,” “Mr. Blues” and “Maybe If You Catch Me.”
As a side note, I recently saw the band perform live in Orlando, and I can honestly say that Ginty is one of the best Hammond B3 players I have ever heard. The band plays with an interwoven passion and intensity that shines through on every note. They played an extended jam that was so frenetic, Ginty paused at the end to ask, “Is everybody alright?” A band just doesn’t get much tighter than that! Give this one a listen because you will be hooked as fast as I was.