A look at albums by 2017 RMHF performers David Clayton Thomas and George Koller

(Originally written by Scott Gudell)

To help honor and induct trumpeter Lew Soloff into the Rochester Music Hall of Fame: Class of 2017, several musicians took part in the live ceremony, including Blood Sweat and Tears vocalist David Clayton Thomas and his musical director George Koller. Both gentlemen have CDs available. Here’s a look at them…

Canadiana – David Clayton Thomas

(Antoinette Records)

Americana is a type of music that has its roots in early folk and country music of the states and has come to represent the “new” earthy country style, sans the ‘twang’. The Canadian mirror image of that is Canadiana and Toronto based David Clayton Thomas (DCT) has just released a thirteen song CD that salutes the rich writing and singing talent that is found throughout Canada.

Although DCT is an incredibly writer, having written some of Blood Sweat and Tears monster hits, he chose to cover songs by a dozen other Canadians while including only one DCT original. By now most people realize that The Band was a Canadian group so the CD opens with DCT’s spirited version of Robbie Robertson’s “Ophelia.” Many of the other covers are earthy and grittier than the originals as he cherry picks classics such as “Early Monnin’ Rain” (Gordon Lightfoot,) “Both Side Now” (Joni Mitchell), “Heart Of Gold” (Neil Young) and “Suzanne” (Leonard Cohen.) These, and other well-known performers, have topped the music charts in of both countries and helped define the sound and style of the last few decades.

Regardless of whether you’re from the US or from Canada, these versions are alluring and ultimately a passionate tribute from an important vocalist of our time.

Secret Space Program – George Koller

(Self released CD)

As an “in demand” bass player, George Koller has appeared on countless recordings and has worked with world class talent such as Holly Cole, Eartha Kitt, Phil Woods and even Peter Gabriel. Secret Space Program is the latest disc with Koller (bassist/singer) as the leader.

The CD opens with “Where Did They Go,” a rousing, briskly paced original that hints at the probing lyrics and style of Moses Allison while “What Might Have Been” is a much quieter, more reflective lament. Koller’s version of “Cool Water,” originally a 1930s country and western song, is an amazingly serene gem that would be suitable in a film noir movie. Other songs slow things down even more with lullaby that hint at the easy going style of singers such as Michael Franks.

Koller (and Thomas) were great additions to the 2017 Rochester Music Hall of Fame ceremonies on April 30, 2017. Here’s hoping they both make a return visit to the area.