It Is What It Is
New Mexico Jazz Workshop Executive Director Ed Ullman calls Joanie Griffin Albuquerque's 'Empress of the Blues'. New Mexico diva Hillary Smith calls her 'Soul Sister #1'. For over 25 years, Joanie has been a fixture on the music scene in Albuquerque, belting out the blues, harmonizing with her sisters and singing sultry jazz ballads. She has shared the stage with some of the most accomplished musicians in New Mexico and held her own. With Larry Freedman, Bob Barron and Melvin Crisp, Joanie has found the perfect vehicle to showcase her talent. The Combo Special provides arrangements and stellar performances of Joanie's original songs. CD review from Albuquerque Journal entertainment section: Friday, July 6, 2007 JOANIE GRIFFIN AND COMBO SPECIAL 'It Is What It Is' By David Steinberg For the Albuquerque Journal Concert/CD release party 4-8 p.m. Sunday, July 8 at Puccini's Golden West Saloon, 620 Central SW. Free admission. The new CD from Joanie Griffin and Combo Special is really something special. It's fun, it's feel-good ... it's party time! The CD is infused with boogie-woogie and blues tracks but it rocks. The musicians are some of Albuquerque's best. Griffin, the band's lead singer, has been belting out songs in New Mexico for years. On this album her voice still has her trademark brassy, driving quality, though she slurs some of the lyrics. Griffin's style is reminiscent of her friend and sometime singing partner Denise Brissey Cohen in her days with The Planets rock band. Griffin covers 'Love Like Blood' and Tom Petty's 'Breakdown,' then goes into high gear with originals like 'Drive-by Heartache' and 'I Got Faith,' which she co-wrote with surehanded keyboardist Larry Freedman. Freedman's keyboards- piano and organ- lend a soulful feel to the songs. With him are heavy-duty rhythm players- bassist Bob Barron and drummer Melvin Crisp, who is also the featured vocalist on the cut 'Treat Her Right.' -- David Steinberg.