Leon Sam and the Zydeco Dots
Tribute to Clif
Zydeco, more than anything else, is about socializing. It creates an atmosphere in which people can drink, dance and share dirty thoughts. That's why the music is best experienced in a juke joint. Attempts to record zydeco in a studio often sound slick and devoid of spontaneity, which is the antithesis of the music. Fortunately Houston producer Rock Romano gets it right on the Zydeco Dots' latest CD, Tribute to Clif, the band's first release in four years.
The Zydeco Dots, still one of Houston's hardest-working ensembles, have undergone some significant personnel changes. The addition of Leon Sam gives the Dots a top-notch accordion player, one who favors a wide range of bluesy notes. The group's sound is now more classic, less contemporary, which is a plus when covering the likes of Clifton Chenier. Sam attacks the melody on Chenier's "Messaround," propelling the shuffle tempo into high gear with his Cajun-style la-la riffing. It's as if Sam were grafting a bluesy intensity to the loose-limbed body of zydeco.
There are noteworthy originals, including the fabulous "Ida," which finds Sam mixing it up at high volume, peeling off notes slightly behind the chugga-chugga beat set down by drummer Joe Rossyion. Other originals include blues shuffles, a Latin-flavored bit of zydeco, "LA in Mexico," and a tasty Southern slide-guitar boogie featuring axman Tee Potter.
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The Dots are more fun than a crawfish boil, and this CD is provides further evidence as to why the group remains one of Houston's most popular zydeco bands, year after year. -- Aaron Howard