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Hot! Episode #10

Episode #10

Recording Date: April 12, 2001
Location: Sigma Sound Studios, Philadelphia

Mickey Raphael – Harmonica
Jackie King – Guitar
Bob Miles – Guitar
Billy English – Drums
Bee Spears – Bass
Jay Davidson – Keyboards

All Blues                                 BUY
Cantaloupe Island                   BUY
Little Sunflower                       BUY
Gypsy                                       BUY

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This Studio Jams session was a bit different than most of the others we have taped in that, rather than invite a totally select group of diverse and unconnected musicians as we most often do, we instead basically invited 4 of Willie Nelson’s band of musicians into the studio – along with but two other “unconnected” musicians. While on the surface it might seem an odd choice for a “jam” show, it really wasn’t. The band in fact includes a number of versatile, seasoned pros with serious jazz chops, lead by left-handed guitarist Jackie King and harmonica virtuoso Mickey Raphael. Joining them at the session were Bee Spears on bass, Billy English on drums – both also from Willie’s band – plus Bob Miles on guitar and Jay Davidson on Hammond B3 organ.

That was the first time I had ever met Jackie, much less work with him. I couldn’t have been any more pleased. What a joy it was. As impressive as he is musically, he is just as much so as a person. Kind, easy-going, gentle and totally unassuming…a real pleasure. Mickey is the same way. One of the nicest guys you ever hope to meet. Together they helped guide the session and kept it moving forward. In a way, Jackie and Mickey pretty much served as co-musical directors throughout the afternoon. Mickey suggested Miles Davis’ All Blues as a nice way to get things started. After all, it’s a tune most everyone knows and provides a nice framework for some comfortable improv. They followed that up with a nice version of Herbie’s Cantaloupe Island. Then, after a bit of interesting rehearsal, we cut some nice tracks of both Little Sunflower and Gypsy. Jackie, Bob, Mickey and Jay provided most of the solos on all the takes.

It was nice that we were also able to tape this session in Studio A at the legendary Sigma Sound Studios in Philadelphia, PA – home to “TSOP – The Sound of Philadelphia” and all the great Gamble & Huff recordings in the 1970′s. Throughout the session there was a fun, hip and very cool vibe…just the way it should be. Cool.

I think for the guys, especially Bee and Mickey, it was a nice change of pace for them – something totally different from what they do onstage with Willie each night. Actually, if I’m ever able to do it again with these guys, I think it would be very cool to try and include Willie Nelson at the session as well. Now, how cool would that be! Keeping my fingers crossed on that one.

– Tom Emmi / Producer

“The best show on television, hands down. Ridiculous jams get put together. Love it!”

— T.A.