It's well-established that the blues, an art form born out of the Mississippi Delta cotton fields in the early 1900s, is a root of all forms of popular music: rock, pop, jazz, funk and even hip-hop. The man known as Riley B. King was born in the environment of that Delta, and has since become the most recognized name in bluesand perhaps, the most influential as well: B.B. King.
Though Itta Bena, MS has long been recognized as the birthplace of the King of Blues, he was actually born on a plantation near the Berclair community, a few miles west of Itta Bena. King grew up a little farther west in Indianola, where his itch to play the blues developed. Just days before his 83rd birthday, a Mississippi Blues Trail marker was unveiled near Berclair, and the public got its first look inside the B.B. King Museum and Delta Interpretive Center in Indianola. Not long after, the public also gets to hear One Kind Favor.
The collection includes twelve songs that King co-wrote with a variety of other influential artists, including Lemon Jefferson, T-Bone Walker, Lonnie Johnson and John Lee Hooker. King plays electric lead guitar and sings lead on all tracks on One Kind Favor. The core band includes Jim Keltner and Jay Bellerose on drums and percussion, Nathan East of the jazz supergroup Fourplay on acoustic bass and Dr. John on piano, with several additional musicians contributing here and there.
The opening song, "See That My Grave Is Kept Clean," asks one kind favor of the listener. Mike Elizondo adds electric bass on this and other selections. Neil Larson plays the Hammond B3 organ, and Johnny Lee Schell brings additional guitar. Collectively, the musicians lay down an engaging track while the basses, drums and percussion carry a march to underscore King's lead. Though they sound like a cohesive unit, each instrument adds a personal touch.
"Get These Blues Off Me" is a hardcore example of what this type of music is about. The saxophones set it off in a melancholy, almost post-mortem mood. "Baby, please don't be angry with me," King sings. His famous guitar, Lucille, further expresses the pain. The horns sway, while Dr. John's piano is emphatic. The upbeat "Midnight Blues" is a finger-snapping, toe-tapping song. King's growling voice stresses key points. The horn and rhythm sections shine in this jam, while Lucille sings her heart out.
King has entertained millions with his albums, concerts and television appearances. He has won several Grammy Awards. Some are on display at his museum, which is built around an old cotton gin building where King worked as a young man. And with this release, the King of Blues has done his fans One Kind Favor.
Track Listing: See That My Grave Is Kept Clean; I Get So Weary; Get These Blues Off Me; How Many More Years; Waiting for Your Call; My Love Is Down; The World Gone Wrong; Blues Before Sunrise; Midnight Blues; Backwater Blues; Sitting on Top of the World; Tomorrow Night.
Personnel: B.B. King: vocals, electric lead guitar; Jim Keltner: drums, percussion; Nathan East: acoustic bass; Johnny Lee Schell: guitars (1, 4-6, 9); Dr. John: piano; Neil Larsen: Hammond B-3 (1, 3, 5, 9); Mike Elizondo: electric bass (1, 2, 4, 5, 12); Jay Bellerose: drums, percussion; Darrell Leonard: trumpet (2-12); Eugene “Snooky” Young: trumpet (2, 4, 12); Ricky Woodard: tenor sax (2-4, 6-12); Charles Owens: tenor sax (2, 4, 12); Ernie Fields Jr.: baritone sax (2-4, 6-9, 11, 12); Ira Nepus: trombone (2-4, 6-12); Keith Fiddmont: alto sax (3, 7-9, 11); Randall Aldcroft: euphonium (3); Thomas Peterson: tenor sax (6), baritone sax (10); Jeffrey Clayton: alto sax (6, 10); Stephen Bruton: guitars (12).