Aaron Moore is one of the survivors of the classic boogie-woogie piano style that permeated the 1950's Chicago blues scene. Despite the loss of such piano giants as Eddie Boyd, Memphis Slim and Roosevelt Sykes, Moore at age 72 (and possibly as much as 10 years older according to his wife) seems to just be starting to gain the notoriety that he shunned years ago when he played with the likes of Little Milton, Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf and B. B. King. His second Delmark release, "Boot Em Up!," is the follow up to his 1996 debut recording on Delmark "Hello World." Interestingly, "Hello World" was recorded at the request of a seriously impressed producer, Pete Nathan, following Moore's work at a recording session for guitarist Brewer Phillips' first Delmark CD.
"Boot Em Up!" features 17 original tunes representing classic Chicago piano blues. Moore is backed by an all-star band of Chicago sidemen including James Wheeler (guitar), Robert Stroger (bass) and Willie "Big Eyes" Smith (drums). Moore provides all of the vocals and some fantastic piano throughout the CD. With Stroger and Smith providing a strong backbeat, Moore and Wheeler offer some great solo moments on the recording. Overall, the group blends together very well, with Moore providing nice piano fills around his vocals on each and every song. Wheeler is a very clean guitarist who blends his solos into the fabric of the song, rather than overpowering the other members of the group. Moore demonstrates some nice versatility in his playing ranging from a smooth, flowing sound to a hammering boogie.
Highlights on the CD include "My Love Is Out Of Control," a excellent midtempo shuffle with a guitar solo that is more Texas than Chicago and a nice fading piano solo at the end. Also notable is "Hind Part Boogie" which features an infectious bass line, some nice guitar work by Wheeler and a ripping piano by Moore. Moore offers strong, clean vocals, pleading to the listener in such songs as "Made a Change In Your Love" and "Just Let Me Love You." Although this is clearly a recording of piano blues, guitarist James Wheeler receives ample time to display his skills on numerous tracks including "I Want My Baby Back" and the title track, "Boot Em Up!".
"Boot Em Up!" is an excellent presentation of classic piano blues and clearly reveals that the classic style is still alive and well in the hands of Moore. Anyone who embraces piano blues will find that this album offers some of the best that Chicago has to offer.
This review is copyright © 2000 by Dave "Doc" Piltz, and Blues On Stage, all rights reserved.