You can’t argue that New Orleans is world famous for its tantalizing cuisine, but as Keith Stone points out with his band moniker Red Gravy, there’s Italian–Creole cooking predicated on tomato sauce affectionately dubbed “red gravy.” Though his 2016 The Prodigal Son Returns release was respectable enough, Stone’s latest all-original affair is a quantum leap beyond that—the guitarist has finally found his secret sauce with talented pianist/producer/arranger Tom Worrell and Crescent City favorite son drummer Eddie Christmas.
If there is a front-running hit here, it’d be the rollicking “Red Gravy,” already in rotation at some area restaurants. It’s a classic contemporary New Orleans foodie’s delight with Worrell brilliantly channeling the legendary Professor Longhair. The New Orleans personality basks throughout, never staying contained but strutting jovially when the spirit ignites, such as on the jaunty, Meters-esque “Love Done Put Me Down.”
Gravy’s bluesy side has good vitals as well. On “You Ain’t Got Nothing,” a rhythmic riff becomes a full-fledged, unhurried jam with Stone and saxophonist Jimmy Carpenter mining a deep groove. Even better is the major belly-rubbin’ “Hard to Have the Blues,” where Stone does his best string shredding of the disc.
But Stone saves the best for last with “Something in the Water.” Towards the end, Gravy shifts from the funky parade ambience into a quasi-reckless improv that’s almost like what the Dead would sound like if cayenne was mixed in their weed. But the wheels never completely fall off—you see, they are glued on with red gravy.