For some 30 years, saxman, showman, shaman, and singer Leroy Ellington has been pleasing crowds in the Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky region, doin’ it to death as the leader of an eight-piece funk firestorm. His latest project, with a band affectionately named Sacred Hearts, is called “Sanctified,” and is eleven original cuts that pairs Leroy with some of the cream of the crop of players from that Kentucky-Ohio area, including Max Gise and Marcos Sastre on guitars, Bam Powell on drums and vocals, Charlie Fletcher on keys, Mike Grosser on bass, and a brilliant horn section.
The cuts draw on Leroy’s career of crowd-watching and crowd-pleasing from the bandstand and everything is geared for the dancers. The sermon tarts as Leroy blasts outta the gate sounding like a Hellfire-and brimstone Baptist preacher, testifyin’ and lockin’ into the groove of “Good Time Blues.” “Gotta Keep Movin’ On” deals with gettin’ out of a bad relationship while the gettin’s good, while all things N’ Awlins, including “gris gris” and “gumbo ya ya” are the theme “Something Funky Goin’ On,” with Charlie on the squeezebox. The set closes with a burnin’ blast of Famous Flames-flavored funk, and is the tale of our legendary hero with a fetish for all ladies of all kinds–he’s just “Stone Cold Bad.”
We had two favorites. In a song that rings as true as it did fifty years ago when it was inspired, Leroy spreads a message of hope and harmony as he recounts the tale of seeing a race riot as a child, “Let’s Make Love, let’s kill the pain that hate can bring.” And, ol’ Leroy puts on his slow-blues philosophical shoes as he ponders the question, “What Would You Do if you knew today was your last day?”
A great man once said, “ALL ABOARD—The Night Train,” and Leroy Ellington and Sacred Hearts beckon you to the dance floor to get yo’self “Sanctified!” Until next time…