Blues piano has a long history and wide stylistic differences. The practitioners presented here by Rounder Records take a swath across time and space to give you a fine collection of old-timers and newcomers working through boogie, barrelhouse, rag, and urban differences in their deliveries and compositions. These unaccompanied recordings give you the man and piano in collectable renditions with technologically superb digital remastering.
Booker T. Laury who died in 1995 is represented with an up-tempoed shuffle that excitedly pushes "Booker's Boogie" and the bluesier "Early In The Morning" that has screeched vocals and irregular notation. Tuts Washington, a New Orleans entertainer, recorded two cuts here in 1983 just before his death. His "Arkansas Blues" and "Yancy Special" are economical instrumentals with barrelhouse flavors. The almost frontier sound of the Laury and Washington are quite different from the city sound and sophistication of Charles Brown. The West Coast piano giant shows his smooth, jazzy, and sultry piano style on both "Black Night" and "Nobody Knows The Trouble I've Seen". Brown's silky voice just tops is all off. He and his "Give Me A Woman" wax with a storied cabaret-style.
James Booker brings on "All Around The World" with ivory and vocal response to reinforce his plea of love. His twelve barred "Hound Dog" and "Amen" give him further keyboard road to build his vocals upon. Eddie Bo contributes two: the moving shuffle "Hard Times" and the aspired "I'm Through Dealing". Others contributing cuts are Art Neville, Willie Tee, and newcomer Davell Crawford.
It's not only lovers of the keyboards that benefit with this release. This is a good cross-sectional view of the piano in the context of blues music. The genre would not be the same without the instrument many find as background support or as a composing tool. Blues piano has never sounded so alive and healthy, take a listen and dip into a little history. Great liner notes and session info are included.
Rounder Records Corp.; One Camp Street; Cambridge, MA 02140; or, www.rounder.com
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This review is copyright © 2002 by Mark A. Cole, and Blues On Stage at: www.mnblues.com, all rights reserved. Copy, duplication or download prohibited without written permission.
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