Get this crazy baby off my head!


Big Joe Maher & Jeff Sarli

Big Joe Maher & Jeff Sarli - Mojo - 1994 - Wildchild

Do you dig mellow '60s rhythm and blues grooves like Percy Mayfield or T-Bone? If so, Big Joe and his band will be right up your alley. Joe's a natural-born blues singer, as irresistibly laid back as Albert King. The band's got that Hammond organ groove down. The two saxes are raunchy and raw; the electric guitar moans and wails. Stereophile says "...such a cool disc...equal parts barrel-house jump-band and smooth swing...big, big sound." Highly recommended as one of the best-sounding blues/R&B discs ever, according to blues star Bob Margolin. (#02352) © www.mapleshaderecords.com

A great laid back blues/R&B album from Big Joe Maher, and the late Jeff Sarli . A really cool album with plenty of soul. The musicianship is Grade A. There are grooves here that you could "hang your hat" on. Covers here include songs from Muddy Waters, T-Bone" Walker, and Percy Mayfield. Great stuff from two artists you may not be familiar with. Try and listen to Big Joe & the Dynaflow's "I'm Still Swingin'" album, and also John Mooney's brilliant "All I Want" album which features some great basswork from the late Jeff Sarli


1. GOT MY MOJO WORKIN' (Muddy Waters)
2. WHO WILL THE NEXT FOOL BE? (Charlie Rich)
3. HEARTBREAKER (Ertegun and Charles)
4. IN THE DARK (Aaron "T-Bone" Walker)
5. VODKA ON THE ROCKS (Maher, Sarli, Bryant, Watling and Queene)
6. HARD LIVIN' ALONE (Floyd Dixon)
7. WHEN DID YOU LEAVE HEAVEN? (Percy Mayfield)
8. PONYTAIL (Aaron "T-Bone" Walker)
9. TROUBLE IN MIND (traditional)
10. WINGS 'N THINGS (Edward K. Ellington)
11. I DARE YOU, BABY (Percy Mayfield)
12, GOODBYE, BABY (Big Joe Turner)


Big Joe Maher (Drums), (Vocals)
Jeff Sarli (Bass), (Bass (Upright)
Rusty Bogart (Guitar (Electric)
Jenny Queen (Sax (Tenor)
Chris Watling (Sax (Baritone)
Bob Willoughby (Piano on Tracks 9, & 12)


I'm excited that the relatively esoteric worlds of high-end audio recording and blues are meeting and getting along so well...you can enjoy the efforts of some of the "audiophile purist" releases that are starting to show up in the blues world. They sound beautiful and real on all but the cheapest boom-box or car stereo. One album that particularly impressed me recently is Mojo (Wildchild!/Mapleshade 02352) by Big Joe Maher and Jeff Sarli and Big Blue, a powerful performance recorded with stunning clarity and space. It's a feast for the soul, and candy for the ears. - from the column Steady Rollin' © Bob Margolin, February/March 1996, © Blues Review

Mojo is such a cool disc, I can't stand it. Big Joe, a drummer and singer, and Jeff Sarli, a swingin' string-bass player, have put together a band that's equal parts barrel-house jump-band and smooth swing band. The result will get you up off your butt „ if you've still got a pulse, that is. And bottom? Man, does this disc got bottom! Drive and air „ you can hear the walls bulging as they try to contain this big, big sound „ with a fat-back bottom. Did I mention that? This one may not grow hair (didn't on me anyway), but it'll definitely trim 10 years off your age. - from QuarterNotes © Wes Phillips, June 1995, © Stereophile

WHADAYA KNOW? Big Joe in slo-mo. Big Joe Maher, that is. On his new release, Mojo, the area drummer best known for leading the Dynaflows and shouting out electric blues and jump tunes takes a decidedly more relaxed view of the blues. Listening to the opening (and title) track for a few seconds is all it takes to confirm that this session's atmosphere and pacing has more to do with Percy Mayfield's laconic balladry than Big Joe Turner's barroom barking. As it turns out, songs by both Mayfield and Turner are on the album, along with tunes by Charlie Rich, Ray Charles and Floyd Dixon, and in each case Maher handles them in an easy, soulful stride. T-Bone Walker's riff-based Ponytail and the Duke Ellington sax-and-organ-powered instrumental Wings ïN Things help enliven things, but some of the album's best moments come when the mood is mellow, the music spare and Maher is quietly tending to his battered heart on Rich's Who Will The Next Fool Be? and Walker's In The Dark. Bassist and producer Jeff Sarli is responsible for the album's uncluttered, understated charm. (Maher's longtime rhythm section partner Sarli conceived the project and enjoys costar status.) Sarli has assembled a strong cast that includes keyboardists Bob Willoughby and Phil Stancil, guitarist Rusty Bogard and saxophonists Chris Watling and Jerry Queene. © Mike Joyce, December 23, 1994, © The Washington Post

BIO ("Big Joe" Maher)

Joseph Maher a/k/a "Big Joe" Maher has been a performing drummer/singer over past 30 years. His list of credits is a who's-who of blues and jazz, having performed at an early age in his high school jazz band The Starliners with the likes of greats like Clark Terry, Urbie Green, Mudell Lowe, James Moody, just to name a few. Thanks to Col. Joe Carley, a retired Air Force Colonel and Director of the Starliners, who knew all of these great musicians and invited them to sit in as guest performers often. After high school Joe went immediately on the road with his own jazz trio. His mission then started to become an accomplished singer/drummer. Over time he shared the stage and backed up musicians like Jimmy Witherspoon, Bullmoose Jackson, James "Thunderbird" Davis, Nappy Brown, Otis Rush, Earl King and more. In the late 80's after performing with and managing nine piece swing band "The Uptown Rhythm Kings," and after a few years as drummer and touring with the Tom Principato Band, Joe formed his own 5 piece blues jump group "Big Joe & The Dynaflows." In between touring and local performances with the Dynaflows, in the mid-90's Joe accepted the role as musical coordinator for Mick Fleetwood's club in Alexandria, VA "Fleetwoods." His knowledge of the local and national blues & jazz scene helped him land the position which had the club filled with top notch talent! Joe's list of music producing projects include saxophone legend Joe Stanley's "King of the Honky Tonk Saxophone", John Cocuzzi's release "Swingin' & Burnin'", and with longtime friend, bassist Jeff Sarli (who has recently worked on projects with Keith Richards/Levon Helm) teamed up with a host of fine local musicians to record in a relaxed atmosphere the bluesy-jazz CD "Mojo". © www.mapleshaderecords.com

BIO (Jeff Sarli)

Born in 1958, Jeff grew up in White Plains, New York. He started taking guitar lessons well before his teens. By fourteen he had a band, Money Back Guarantee, and was playing at school and library events. When the family moved to Annapolis, Jeff joined the Wildcats, playing professionally with Tom Mitchell, a great swing and blues guitarist (who can be heard on Mapleshade #10632). A couple of years later the upright bass reached out and grabbed Jeff: “The first time I heard Charlie Haden, I was captivated by the sound and the look of the bass. From the moment I picked one up, I never put it down.” His first bass-playing gig, in 1979, was with a great D.C. area soul and rockabilly singer, Billy Hancock and his Tennessee Rockets. “The first year was a nightmare. I hadn’t been playing bass for very long, so my fingers would be bleeding at the end of each gig. It was torture...” He went on to play with many of the best blues-based bands in the area: the Uptown Rhythm Kings, Big Joe and the Dynaflows, the Hula Monsters, Bob Margolin, Bill Kirchen, Kevin McKendree, Ann Rabson and others. Starting in the mid-eighties, Jeff added national and international touring to his steady D.C. area work, touring with slide guitar giant John Mooney (a 20 year association), Anson Funderburg & Sam Myers, and singer-songwriter Marshall Crenshaw. I met Jeff soon afterwards, around 1987, when Ben Andrews joined up with Mark Wenner and Jeff to form the Blue Rider Trio—and to start the first Trio recording project. From the first rehearsal session, I hit it off with Jeff instantly. We became fast friends, sharing a love of old motorcycles, vintage recording equipment, thrift store blues records, obscure African instruments and, above all, a love of tweaking the bass for better sound. Informally, Jeff soon became one of my most trusted A&R advisers, bringing to Mapleshade superb talent like the uniquely gifted mountain swing pianist, Bob Willoughby, and Big Joe Maher, the wonderfully relaxed jump blues shouter and drummer. Together, they formed the core of our highly successful Mojo project (Wildchild! #02352)—and that, in turn, spawned lots more good Jeff Sarli-inspired sessions. Jeff, ever restless for new challenges, started building up a vintage recording studio in the basement of his home in Annapolis, often dropping by Mapleshade to exchange ideas. In that studio, he became mentor and inspiration to a whole young generation of punk and roots rockers—all the while expanding his blues, swing and rock horizons with new forays into world, country and even Latin music. In 1995 he landed a gig in Branson, Missouri with Patsy!—the long-running, very glitzy tribute to Patsy Cline. After only three months, the crushing commercialism drove him back to the D.C. blues and rock scene and his touring and recording with John Mooney. A year later, through Rob Fraboni, Mooney’s producer, Jeff got a call to go to Connecticut to jam with Keith Richards. They hit it off, jammed all day and even laid down a few scratch tracks. A half year later, when Keith and the Stones gathered in L.A. to put together their Bridges to Babylon album, they brought Jeff out to play upright on one track. He ended up playing on three. As Keith put it, “Got this guy from Baltimore, Jeff Sarli, plays like Willie Dixon. I didn’t want that same electric bass texture. I wanted a little more roll to it, ‘cos we’ve got enough rock.” The resulting fame didn’t change Jeff much. He stuck with his commitment to gritty rock and blues—and to the young musicians he was mentoring. Touring in 1999, Jeff had a nearly fatal accident in his van. There followed months of physical therapy to rebuild his shattered shoulder. He and Ben and Mark had already agreed to do a second Blue Rider Trio album to follow up on the success of the first. We put off the recording date until Jeff felt he was ready. When Jeff showed up at Mapleshade for the first night’s session, he told me it was his first gig since the accident. The next three nights were a real act of heroism and selfless dedication to music. Though Jeff was obviously in pain, he made light of it—and played his buns off. Both his sound and his musicianship were better than ever. The hard years on the road, the endless hunger to create something new, had added profound layers of subtlety and expression to his blues. At the very beginning of 2006, Jeff moved to Nashville, almost immediately landing a weekly spot at the Bluebird with Mike Henderson, Pat O’Conor and Kevin McKendree plus a number of studio sessions. His touring and recording with John Mooney continued; they appeared at the 2006 New Orleans &Jazz Heritage Festival as well as the Rock ‘n’ Bowl. Succumbing to kidney disease, he died in August 2006. He was 48 years old. He left behind a musical legacy of more than 35 albums. © www.mapleshaderecords.com