Putumayo has been celebrating world music for 10 years. They are the folks that brought us the noble Mali To Memphis and Mississippi Blues collections. Now, they commemorate the Year Of The Blues (YOTB) with this 14 song, 55 minute disc that features 16 artists. All are American which quantifies for the music's authenticity. Although a couple lesser-known acts appear, the majority are long-lasting, big-namers and all present contemporary recordings. These previously released tracks were made between 1972 and 2002 with the vast majority coming from the 90s. Many of the songs were taken from Grammy Award winning albums. The 20 page liner is first-rate. Each page features an artist photo and biography. Author, Jacob Edgar, details a brilliant history of the blues where new fans will learn, "blues is the heart and soul of American music" and blues is "dominated more by the emotions it was trying to express then by the rigors of specific structure."
The performers on this compilation were selected because they have remained true to the roots of the blues. Keb' Mo''s upbeat acoustic blues and rich, baritone voice are stunning on a gospel flavored inspirational. Ruth Brown's swanky vocals deliver cutting notes and sharp words. From one of the all-time great blues guitar albums, Robert Cray is accompanied by the instantly recognized ice-pickin' of Albert Collins. Sugar Pie Desanto's sanctified vocals are classy and sassy while the great Solomon Burke's are haunting. Blues passes from one generation to the next when Raful Neal sings a back-porch duet with daughter Jackie. Blues visionary Chris Thomas King takes the music into tomorrow. Other maestros include: Arthur Adams, B.B. King, Henry Gray, Taj Mahal, Otis Rush, Sunpie Barnes, Eric Bibb while guest virtuosos include Duke Robillard and the Blind Boys of Alabama.
Unlike Martin Scorsese and Marshall Chess who feel the future of the blues is to marry it with hip-hop, this sampler reflects musicians who are keeping the blues alive here and now. Putumayo does not have Mr. Scorsese's marketing budget but the little label achieves what Martin did not. This collection proves the blues is still alive. Blues samplers flood the market especially during YOTB. If you want a true indication of what real blues is all about, enter here!
For CDs, booking and information, contact: www.putumayo.com
Tim Holek Freelance Journalist/Photographer
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