Jean Bartlett – Arts Correspondent, Pacifica Tribune
Blend a few pounds of yams, some evaporated milk, a sweep of vanilla and a bunch of sweet and buttery stuff and you’re going to find your taste buds are just whistling for one more heaping bite of that sweet potato pie. That same sense of dipping into something really good is what Primary Colors latest CD “Every Mother’s Son” is all about. This is a little elegant musical feast put together by the duo who is the basis for Primary Colors, vocalist Nate Pruitt and guitarist Rick Vandivier – and in their kitchen of sound there is some fine melody cooking. The album is a tribute to their mothers “for their wisdom, encouragement, support, and unconditional love,” writes Pruitt. It is to them that they sing. They are joined on this set by George March on drums, Jeff Buenz on electric bass and Bob Johnson on tenor and soprano sax. Their sound is three full courses of reasons to sing “hmmm, hmmm.” First there’s a little blues, jazz and soul mixed up fine with a prayer full of inspiration. Next is a swing of West African and Brazilian finger snap laid right down with some rhythm snap scat. Finally there is Pruitt’s ride the river vocal which can stretch, yawn, simmer and yodel over any bend in a musical phrase. One first time listen makes for a lot of finger press on replay.
“Sweet Potato Pie” by James Taylor is the first track on this album and it is savory. Pruitt’s vocal and Vandivier’s guitar spoon out jazz, sass and lullaby in a voice and string patty-cake that is supple and wonderfully unpredictable. “Time After Time” (S. Cahn, J. Styne) is relaxed ’round 2 a.m. jazz, when nobody wants to go home because the music is too good to leave behind. Vocal, guitar and saxophone texturing melt and meld to the candlelit side of dreamland. Bass and percussion lead the way, so that sax, vocal and guitar can just strut their stuff on the oh-so-sweet version of “There is No Greater Love” (I. Jones, M. Symes.) Nice turn of the blues on “Outskirts of Town” (W. Weldon, A. Razaf.) A child’s jungle beat is captured in fun and funk on “Signifyin’ Monkey” (O. Brown Jr.) with Pruitt making friends with storybook jingle ease… “Old Folks” (D.I. Hill, W. Robison) is front porch rocker, quiet sax and sun going down vocal. It carries a social message which takes it time, without preaching…”Hallelujah, I Love Her So” (R. Charles) lets the band ride the current of satisfying sermon and it is good. Pruitt keeps his vocal right up next to heaven on “Deep River” (Traditional) and Vandivier lifts up the strings of his guitar to hail Jordan. Two step with a skim-the-water skip roars out the cool on the band’s delivery of “Sunny Side of the Street” (D. Fields, J. McHugh.) Blues that deliver need-to-listen-to-talkin’ close out the set with “Further On Up the Road” (D. Robey, J. Veasey.) This is a deeply satisfying listen that makes you reach for another slice of the musical pie.
Originally published: March 10, 2004