MAY 18th, 2020 – Evelyn Rubio is a Mexico-City born saxophonist and singer. She was a star in her homeland before moving to Houston, where, at the invitation of Al Staehely, she eventually became a member of the Calvin Owens Orchestra (formerly BB King’s accompaniment band). After meeting another King musician, James Bolden, Rubio recorded her first album ‘Hombres’.
On her latest album ‘Crossing Borders’ Evelyn collected a series of songs, some in English and some in Spanish. It was recorded at different studios in LA, Houston and Austin, in four studios, with a star-studded cast and was produced by Grammy winner and bass player (the only one constantly present) Larry Fulcher. As guests, members of the Phantom Blues Band and Spirit and Josh Sklair, who played with Etta James as a guitarist for many years. About the album she says: “Blues, Rock, Jazz and a bit of country weave the stories together…”.
The Austin musicians include guitarist Dave Grissom (Joe Ely, Storyville), legendary keyboard player Red Young, Zach Person on second guitar and Kirk Covington on drums. They can be heard in the opener “One More Last Time” and the blues rockers “When You Say You’re Sorry” and “What a Way to Go”. Four songs were recorded in LA. Both versions of “Border Town”, the two Spanish bonus tracks (“He Did Me Wrong, But Did It Right” and “Cruel”) and one acoustic track, supported by guitarist The Mighty Orq. Rubio closes English with the Latino-standard “Besame Mucho”, in acoustic Delta-blues style, a winner. On “Border Town” it’s the only time she plays tenor (instead of alto) sax. Another more striking track is the uptempo “He Did Me Wrong, But Did It Right”, where she stands out with her sultry voice. The LA band consisted of guitarist Al Staehely, bassist Mark Andes (of the band Spirit), Brandon Jackson on drums, Barry Seelen on keyboards and Kenny Cordway on guitar, who unfortunately died shortly after the recording. One of the highlights is the track Rubio recorded with the Phantom Blues Band (Braunagel, Finnigan, Schell, Fulcher), “Port Isabel”. It is her best and most soulful song on the album. The smoldering “I Don’t Understand” is also a goosebumps moment and a showcase for her extensive vocal range.
Evelyn Rubio’s “Crossing Borders” is such a typical album because of the different recording locations and line-ups, where you can’t see the trees in the woods at the end. Here more specifically, you don’t recognize the musicians anymore. Add to this the same songs in multiple languages, then the transparency is lost. The songs Evelyn Rubbio likes best are the ballads and the songs in which she plays the sax, which is only about half.