Bodega Sessions

Liner notes by Paul Shelasky

It is my pleasure to help unveil a musical duo that certainly qualifies as on of the "best kept secrets" in acoustic jazz. Rick Shubb and Bob Wilson have for the last thirty years been much better known among their musical peers than to the general public, but hopefully this fine CD will remedy the latter situation.

I first heard the Shubb-Wilson trio about 1970, and their music is still as fresh and unique today. It can truly be said about Rick and Bob on their respective instruments that each sounds like nobody else; each has an instantly recognizable style.

The Shubb-Wilson trio has heretofore been represented on disc by one LP produced in 1976. Rick and Bob have been playing almost steadily from then until now, but never the full-scale touring or recording that their talents deserve.

Bob has been a full-time teacher in the public schools while still finding time to play with Rick as well as electric top-forty gigs and various trad-jazz and swing dates.

Rick played in and led many bluegrass bands in California and Oregon until about 1980 when he gave up full-time performing to develop a line of music products which has become highly successful worldwide. Ironically, while Rick put his performing career on the back-burner, his name has become a household word to every bluegrass banjo player and acoustic guitarist of every conceivable style. I think all these musicians will be curious to finally hear the man behind the name!

Rick credits the great Earl Scruggs as his major influence on banjo. I believe that Rick is considered by his peers to be among the earliest exponents of the "melodic" style of banjo. Certainly by the early 1970s Rick's style was fully-formed, and he was beginning to explore jazz.

The writer has played in various bands with Rick since 1971, and I believe myself well-qualified to comment on his style. Rick's style is characterized by a delicacy of touch and an evenness of articulation. His timing is precise and steady. He has developed his own very considerable arsenal of "licks," and as I have said before, his playing is always instantly recognizable.

Few five-string banjo players have attempted to play jazz, and fewer still have succeeded. It is only in the last few years that a handful of players have won recognition for the banjo from the jazz audience. When Rick plays jazz, he never loses sight of the inherent qualities of the five-string banjo. He uses banjo technique and doesn't sound like a guitarist. He plays the right changes and he swings, but it always sounds like a banjo.

Bob Wilson first picked up the guitar at age twelve, playing country and rock'n'roll. In his early twenties he embarked on a pop/rock singing career, recording several sides on the major independent label ERA. Bob got considerable airplay and did many TV appearances, and seemed on the verge of stardom. He was drawn to jazz, though, and went on to become a fine, straight-ahead guitarist, usually playing a hollow-body electric.

It was only after meeting Rick that Bob began to play gigs on the acoustic. Unlike many guitarists who have considerable experience on electric, Bob gets a big, full-bodied tone on his acoustic and it's the same on any guitar he picks up. I believe even the casual listener will notice how unusual and full Bob's tone is, especially on chordal solos, and this quite apart from his obvious technical mastery and sense of swing.

Bob's sound on the acoustic was first influenced by Hank Snow and Merle Travis. (Merle, incidentally, plays on four of Bob's early 45 recordings.) Other early guitar influences on Bob's style were Charlie Christian, Django Reinhardt, George Van Eps, Tal Farlow, and Johnny Smith. On one fateful day in 1960, Bob met both Barney Kessel and the yet undiscovered Wes Montgomery, both of whom became major influences on his playing.

Guest bassist Charlie Warren is also well known to the writer, who played along side him for the last five years of his fourteen year stint at Disneyland. Charlie began his bass/tuba studies at age eleven and along the way mastered many baroque and renaissance instruments as well.

Charlie's playing on this CD is typically understated and swinging. His intonation is precise and his sound is big and full. One of the most sought-after musicians in both the jazz and classical Los Angeles music scene, Charlie was the perfect choice for Bodega Sessions.

Rick and Bob's first gig together was on Halloween, 1969 at the Freight and Salvage Coffee House in Berkeley, Ca. As the 30th anniversary of their collaboration approaches, their many longtime fans and admirers will welcome this, their first CD, and a host of new admirers will discover California's "best-kept secret" ...the music of Rick Shubb and Bob Wilson!


Bodega Sessions: $15.95
includes postage in the USA. International orders will have postage added.

about the tracks | about Rick Shubb | about Bob Wilson | about Charlie Warren
liner notes by Paul Shelasky | liner notes by Rick Shubb | gear

read the reviews: San Francisco Examiner | Dirty Linen Magazine | Bluegrass Breakdown
Listen to some of the music: Avalon: (MP3: 2.8 MB) | Sherlock Holmes: (MP3: 2.6 MB)

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