Who was/is Dave Specter ? - CDs, Vinyl LPs, DVD and more

Dave Specter

If you were to ask Chicago-based guitarist Dave Specter why his albums are so diverse, he will reply simply: "I'm just trying to stretch out from playing shuffles and slow blues all night long." In the 17 years that Specter has been a Delmark recording artist, we've witnessed him go from one trick bag to another: he's recorded blues instrumentals with a Freddie King feel, and jazz instrumentals that extend the tradition of Kenny Burrell. He has collaborated with guitarists Steve Freund, Lurie Bell, Floyd McDaniel and Ronnie Earl, subtly chorded behind noted blues vocalizers like Lenny Lynn, Tad Robinson, Jesse Fortune, Lynwood Slim and Barkin' Bill Smith. He's flirted with soul and funk, and if he has to go back to shuffles and slow blues, he can do that as well, with mighty conviction and originality. This new album finds him once again at work in front of a live audience. Rather than jet to the other side of the world (as he did on 1994's Live In Europe), he recorded this one right here at home in Chicago at two noted blues clubs, Rosa's Lounge and Buddy Guy's Legends. Rosa's is small and intimate; Buddy Guy's is significantly larger. Yet Specter & Co. put out the same commitment level for both venues.

Live In Chicago finds Specter tilting towards soul and bluesified funk, two genres he's nodded to in passing on earlier records (he covered the Meters' "Look-Ka-Py-Py" on Speculatin', Delmark 744 and Otis Clay's "I Die a Little Each Day" on Live in Europe, Delmark 677). Rather than go for a full-on funk effect a la the Dap-Kings or other contemporary bands, Specter laces his backbeats with a blues inflection, like Junior Wells or Albert Collins.


"We've been friends for many years," Specter says of Sharon Lewis, who got her start at Chicago's famed juke joint, Lee's Unleaded Blues. "We've done shows sporadically including a two-week tour of Europe in spring '07. I think Sharon is one of the best female blues singers on the scene." There's also a few jolting vocal turns and stinging guitar from Jimmy Johnson. "I met Jimmy probably in '84," Specter now reflects. "I was looking to break into the scene and I asked him for some guitar lessons. He introduced me to Steve Freund who took me under his wing. (Johnson) was playing a lot of keyboards back in the mid-80s, and hired me to play guitar. He's one of the truly original voices in the blues." And bringing the tale full circle, Johnson makes his first appearance on a Specter album.

Two musicians Specter worked with on his last album, Is What It Is (Delmark 779) reappear on this album: drummer Marty Binder (who also played with Junior Wells and Albert Collins) as well as bassist Harlan Terson, a veteran of Otis Rush and Lonnie Brooks' bands. Joining the fray is keyboardist Brother John Kattke (formerly with Otis Rush and Buddy Guy), whose own band can be seen in Chicago regularly, hosting the jam sessions at Buddy Guy's Legends on alternate Mondays. While this album has the vibe you'd expect from a live record, the energy isn't sloppy or self-indulgent. With many blues bands, an instrumental is like a throwaway meant to mark time while the vocalist takes a gin break. Specter doesn't sing, but his instrumentals feel like genuine and thoughtful songs, not just random filler. On the lyrical side, Robinson has always been a solid storyteller and a gripping singer; two of his best tales are on this album, "What Love Did To Me" and "What's Your Angle?". Lewis weighs in with some viewpoints of her own on her two originals "In Too Deep" and "Angel".

In Specter's universe, T-Bone Walker is one of the most underrated jazz cats ever while Jimmy McGriff may as well be a blues prophet. You can hear more of this blues-jazz continuum (with a touch of old-style funk) on Live in Chicago. It's not a case of "you had to be there," it's more like "you wish you were." James Porter, February 2008 James Porter is a Chicago-based music writer who has glorified scratchy blues 45's, greasy cheeseburgers, lost rockabilly classics, defunct TV shows and other ephemera for Time Out Chicago, Blues Revue, Roctober, the Chicago Reader and other magazines.

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Blues From The Inside Out (LP)
Dave Specter: Blues From The Inside Out (LP) Art-Nr.: LPDF859

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(Delmark) 8 tracks. One of Chicago's coolest guitarists can look back on a nearly 35-year career in blues and jazz: Dave Specter. For the first time he tries his hand as a singer. There are certainly better vocalists, but he does his...
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Live In Chicago (CD)
Dave Specter: Live In Chicago (CD) Art-Nr.: CDDE794

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After the Delmark/CrossCut joint venture production, 'Live In Europe' (ccd 11047, 1994) this is Dave's second live album. With his signature tone, the Chicago guitar player has eearned himself a worldwide reputation as one of the masters...
$18.94
Blueplicity
Dave Specter: Blueplicity Art-Nr.: CDDD664

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The style is cool, individual, and sensitive at the same time. Singer and harmonica player Tad Robinson reminds me of Sugar Ray, or Darrell Nulish. A beautiful, highly recommended album with many original tunes written by Tad. IF ALL THE...
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Left Turn On Blue
Dave Specter: Left Turn On Blue Art-Nr.: CDDE693

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Leaving the narrow blues road, making a nod towards classic bebop jazz of the early '50s. Instead of melting both styles, Specter is still seperating blues from jazz. A minor disappointment is the performance of special guest McDuff, a...
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Blues Spoken Here
Dave Specter & Lenny Lynn: Blues Spoken Here Art-Nr.: CDDE721

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'elegant' is the term that best describes Specter's fine new release. In Lenny Lynn he found the perfect vocal counterpart to his full-bodied reverberated trademark sound. Lynn, although activ on Chicago's jazz and blues scene for more...
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Speculatin'
Dave Specter: Speculatin' Art-Nr.: CDDE744

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guitarist Dave Speter has always straddled the blues/jazz fence with a hip disregard for arbitrary restrictions. Here he has put his distinctive mark on a collection of outstanding instrumental tunes from all corners of these related...
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Is What It Is
Dave Specter & Steve Freund: Is What It Is Art-Nr.: CDDE779

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2004 'Delmark' - 66:48/12. The album starts-off with a shuffle, followed by a funky, jazzy instrumental. And then comes the first surprise, a Curtis Mayfield classic. Along with some r&b and '60s style soul, this is the album concept:...
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Message In Blue
Dave Specter: Message In Blue Art-Nr.: CDDE836

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(2014/Delmark) 13 tracks. Feat.: Otos Clay, Brother John Kattke, Bob Corritore a.o. Dave Specter's 10th album, MESSAGE IN BLUE, is a soulful and compelling blend of Specter's original instrumentals along with powerful blues/R&B vocals....
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Blues From The Inside Out (CD)
Dave Specter: Blues From The Inside Out (CD) Art-Nr.: CDDE859

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(Delmark) 12 tracks. One of Chicago's coolest guitarists can look back on a nearly 35-year career in blues and jazz: Dave Specter. For the first time he tries his hand as a singer. There are certainly better vocalists, but he does his...
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Spectified
Dave Specter: Spectified Art-Nr.: CD30021

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Three cover versions, plus ten original imstrumentals: Dave Specter's 2010 album delivers great, stunning guitar numbers. Although from Chicago, Dave has always incorporated a lot of different inspirations and sounds into his musical...
$22.26
Live In Europe
Dave Spectere & The Bluebirds: Live In Europe Art-Nr.: CDCCD11047

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Although from Chicago, it wouldn't do him justice to call Dave Spoecter a Chicago style guitar player. He calls T-Bone Walker and B.B.King his major influences, also Magic Sam and Otis Rush who had a concept phrasing behind the vocals....
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Live In Chicago
Dave Specter: Live In Chicago Art-Nr.: DVDDE1794

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The elegant guitar player from Chicago loves to combine his bluesy play with the grooves, the soul and jazz of the Meters, or Booker T. & The MGs. As Dave is featuring a couple of fine guests on his shows, this is a entertaining live...
$21.08
Message In Blue
Dave Specter: Message In Blue Art-Nr.: LPDS836

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(2014/Delmark) 9 tracks. Feat.: Otos Clay, Brother John Kattke, Bob Corritore a.o. Dave Specter's 10th album, Message in Blue, is a soulful and compelling blend of Specter's original instrumentals along with powerful blues/R&B vocals....
$20.13