The Hitman Blues Band Drop New Single

Adding a horn section to his lineup several years ago expanded the possibilities already abundant in Russell “Hitman” Alexander’s band. Saxophonists Mike Vitale and Mike Snyder are a potent one-two punch for listeners and trumpetist Eric Altarac provides another valuable dimension with his playing. Alexander has plied his trade as an ace six-string guitar slinger for countless acts over the years and this musical education has given him a level of versatility for other musicians can match. The New York native’s latest single “Not My Circus” is a welcome blast of the bluesy brilliance that’s garnered the Hitman Blues Band so much attention throughout the world.

This is a band that should be heard on stage, however. Recordings are a near-injustice. The playing and production for “Not My Circus” does a serviceable job conveying their musical power. Even a single listen to the track, though, will leave a longing in your heart that you heard it a few hundred feet away at best, pumping through a superb sound system, and surrounded by a lively crowd. The combination of horns and guitar connects from the first without ever stepping on each other’s figurative toes and the guitar solo is a full-on stunner.

Alexander whipping out a slide and scorching his fretboard is worth the price of purchase alone. You will be hard pressed to name a lot of songs in this vein juxtaposing saxophones, trumpets, and this mainstay of blues guitar. Despite its tried and true status in that genre, Alexander blasts audiences with a winner that avoids the customary signatures of slide work while embracing its familiarity.

His songwriting chops are worth discussing. “Not My Circus” embraces fundamentals, first and foremost, and there’s no doubt Alexander draws from his extensive experience when putting this cut together. Songs such as this should be direct, to the point, and he understands that as well. The dynamic shifts recurring through this performance are key to its success and they come at the right times. Their predictability will not bother you because the Hitman Blues Band pulls it off so well.

He sings like someone who derives genuine joy from the act of creation. No one would say he approaches his material with great artistic complexity but that is a source of strength for music like this. Its connection to listeners is clean and uncluttered. Theorizing about how and why it works is a short discussion. In each line and verse of “Not My Circus” is a world of attitude and emotion, but also a sense of being grateful for the ability to perform at all.

New York’s Hitman Blues Band will be hitting the road again soon as more and more pandemic restrictions fall away and get back to doing what they do best. It isn’t difficult to imagine this new song will figure into their live set and it will achieve heights only hinted at here. Nevertheless, the latest release from the Hitman Blues Band is memorable in the best possible ways. “Not My Circus” is one of the best big band blues acts emerging over the last quarter century. 

Nicole Killian

The music of The Hitman Blues Band has been heard all over the world in partnership with the radio plugging services offered by Musik and Film Radio Promotions Division.  Learn more

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Nicole loves to go cross country skiing, swimming, reading and critiquing books, listening and critiquing music, some culinary arts, pottery, spending time with my daughter, cheesy horror films.

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