Henry Gray hails from just outside New Orleans. At the age of eight, he began to demonstrate his talent on piano. In 1956, he joined Howlin' Wolf's band where he remained until 1968. According to his website, www.henrygray.com, Henry is considered one of the best living exponents of the Windy City piano blues style. You will come to the same conclusion after experiencing this exceptional disc. Its a lively 55 minute set containing danceable blues and early rock and roll. Included, amongst 14 tracks, are 9 originals and all tunes were recorded live in the studio. Henry handles piano and vocals and is backed by members of his most recent touring act the Cats. They are a tight band of experienced and talented musicians. Little Paul "Buck" Sinegal and Olivier Scoazec's guitars create a unique brand of spicy blues. Brian Bruce's wizardry on harmonica will have many referring to him as Superharp while Napolean Martin achieves similar magic playing the reeds of his alto and tenor sax. Long-time bassist, Andy Cornett, provides a solid foundation and is credited with the production while Earl Christopher's drumming is stomping and sweaty. This rhythm section is so firm they could inject a beat into someone not capable of tapping their foot!
Things begin with the title track and a format that is simple, tried and true. There is plenty of sharp and slick guitar pickin' from Buck who has played with all the great Louisiana artists. Gray delivers his vocals with an aged and scratchy throat. On "Hurt My Feelin's", his voice gets excited to the point of practically shouting the lyrics. Its a shufflin' number that rollicks. His voice and piano challenge each other on "Talkin' Bout You" where it is clear that Gray is having a great time performing this romp. "Somebody's Got To Go" will hypnotize the listener into a deep trance. "Scratch The Cat" is an uptempo instrumental with blazing keys and wailing harp. Cornett takes over the vocals on "Keepin' The Blues Alive". The song pays homage to Gray and describes his blues odyssey.
Like his live performances, a similarity of keys and shuffles feature in the songs. However, Henry Gray excels with this style and his barrelhouse runs will enrapture listeners. Sure, its old school stuff but plenty can be learned from simple, straight to the point, packed with a wallop music. John Sinclair is spot on when he writes in his liner notes, 'another stirring collection of Henry Gray originals and blues classics rendered to perfection'. Jerry Brock adds in his liner notes, 'Henry is truly one of the last living legends … recognize him as a national treasure'.
For CDs, booking and information, write to: Lucky Cat Records, 226 Jackson St., Lafayette, LA 70501 Tel (337) 269-5153 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Website for this CD: www.henrygray.com
Simply click on the CD cover at left to order other CDs of Henry Gray!
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