Guitarist/singer/bandleader Sean Costello, 24, is best known as a blues guy -- though in truth he adds a considerable amount of R&B and a touch of soul to his musical mix. "I was listening to blues when I was so young that I've pretty much got it all memorized," Costello says. "In recent years, I've been listening to other stuff. Not to say I don't listen to blues, but I sort of throw it in there in between the other music. This other stuff informs your playing. You can take what these guys are doing, learn from it and put some of it into any style."
Costello's picks, in his own words and in no particular order:
Al Green: I'm Still in Love With You -- "This is his fourth album, right after Let's Stay Together, and it's my favorite, currently. It's got a lot of great tunes on it. Al had really found his vocal style at that point and the Hi Records house band had it dialed in sound-wise. Gotta have some Al Green on the road."
Sly Stone: There's a Riot Goin' On -- "My personal favorite of his. I just like the sound of the record. The vibe is really relaxed, but still funky. I really dig that."
Jimmy Rogers: Chicago Bound -- "That was released in 1976, but it features early/mid-'50s recordings, 1950 through 1956 or so, that Jimmy Rogers did at the end of the Muddy [Waters] sessions [when Rogers was in Waters' band]. ... This to me is the ultimate Chicago blues album. The songs are great and everybody's playing great -- Otis Spann, Little Walter, Big Walter. You can really hear that Chicago blues-style of spontaneous interaction during the song."
Johnnie Taylor: Wanted: One Soul Singer -- "These are his earlier Stax [Records] recordings [from 1967, reissued on a 1991 Atlantic CD]. It's a bunch of great blues tunes, some 'boogaloo'-type stuff, just cool soul and blues with that Stax sound. He's one of my favorite singers, and that's one of the big albums for me."
Sam Cooke & the Soul Stirrers: His Earliest Recordings -- "That's a compilation CD on Specialty. I'm a big gospel fan. If I had to pick one gospel record, that would be the one. I like to listen to that stuff. It makes me feel better, generally."
Bob Dylan: Blood on the Tracks -- "[Costello's pianist] Matt Wauchope and I were joking about the Top 10 Dylan discs to bring on the road. This is a good driving disc, one of the best collections of songs in the world, as far as I'm concerned."
Ben Webster: Soulville -- "This is on Verve. Webster was the tenor player with Duke Ellington for a long time. This has Herb Ellis on guitar, Ray Brown on bass, Oscar Peterson on piano. It's mellow, bluesy jazz stuff that's a good pick for a change of pace."
Bill Withers: Live at Carnegie Hall -- "This is one of my favorite records. It's just a laid-back show, with great songs and great performances. It's relaxed, just a good vibe."
Frank Sinatra with the Red Norvo Quintet: Live in Australia 1959 -- "I really dig that. I think it's some of [Sinatra's] best singing, with classic tunes and a cooking little jazz group, and a great vocalist sort of soaring over the band."
Ibrahim Ferrer: Buenos Hermanos -- "He's the singer from the Buena Vista Social Club. This is his solo record. The production is just incredible, and it's just got a good feel."
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