Champion Jack was N'Orleans-born and raised but he spent over three decades living in Europe working the circuits as a singer and pianist. The one-time prize-fighter, Dupree managed to begin recording in the 1930s in the face of blatant racism and economic disaster. He moved to Europe for many years, and his planned return to the US in the 1980s brought him many more accolades. Jack's piano-led blues follow his consummate lyrical storytelling. A gregarious individual, Mr. Dupree's reflects his life in his music
These sessions date to three recording sessions back in 1990, 1991, and 1993, and have been released before under the same label as Back Home In New Orleans, Forever And Ever, and One Last Time, respectively. The sessionists working with Jack on this effort are: guitarists Kenn Lending, Wayne Bennett, John Mooney or Walter Payton Jr.; drummers Stanley Stephens or Kerry Brown; bassists Walter Payton or Walter Payton Jr.; and hornmen Teddy Riley, Alvin Tyler, Fred Kemp, Tino Barker, Earl Turbinton, 'Cookie' Cook and Gordon 'Sax' Gordon.
Opening the disc, the listener is first confronted with the lamenting "Freedom", a social statement on the black experience. Then this mood is lifted with the bouncy instrumental "Skit Skat", just before you fall into the slow gait of the "Dupree Special". With powered covers like Roosevelt Sykes' "Calcutta" and Brownie McGhee's "Drinkin' Wine Spo-Dee-O-Dee, Jack has thrown in twelve of his own to complete this set of fourteen. Mr. Dupree has put his elusive stylings into the fray; these are born of the blues, rag, barrelhouse, and downright bad times surrounding his lifetime (1910-1992).
The rugged and sometimes tender blues of Champion Jack Dupree is highly influenced by his native home, his since-childhood friendship with Professor Longhair, his orphanage upbringing, and his circuitous career that to his ultimate end kept him playing the blues. To that end, Jack remained extremely popular here and abroad even after his European expatriation. Jack was the concerned performer who gave an audience just what they wanted; escape from the drudgeries of life, and Champion Jack knew how to do that!
This collection should serve as a fine introduction to the uninitiated, and for the fans, this can only be frosting on the cake.
Rounder Records Corp.; One Camp Street; Cambridge, Massachusetts 02140
This review is copyright © 2001 by Mark A. Cole, and Blues On Stage at: www.mnblues.com, all rights reserved. Copy, duplication or download prohibited without written permission. For permission to use this review please send an E-mail to Ray Stiles.