EDDIE MARTIN’S BIG RED RADIO Live In Tuscany

British veteran’s impeccable Italian job marks a career high.

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Eddie Martin’s facility as a player, bandleader and composer is given full rein in this perfectly prepared and served banquet of blues.

Befitting the handsome theatre where the album was recorded, the rapturous 16-piece band excel in hatching the range of hybrids that are Martin’s calling card. From the National guitar-stoked Charley Patton revamp of Five Things to the harp-wailing, suitably cataclysmic Watch The Weather, the dynamic interplay is a joy.

Brilliant Nigerian percussionist Olalekan Babalola (Cassandra Wilson) deserves special mention: a freewheeling master of restraint, his playing underpins this loose-limbed, expansive ensemble and he’s the very pulse of a percolating and primed band. A slide master and electric warrior, Martin is in exalted vocal form, capturing a Stonesy gospel vibe with righteous female chorus on Ingolstadt.

Martin claims this is the best in his 13-album career. It’s hard to argue.