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Various Artists: 50 Years of Jazz and Blues: Blues

C. Michael Bailey By

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Delmark 50th Anniversary Collection, Part 2

As part of the label’s 50th Anniversary Celebration, Chicago’s own Delmark has released two double-disc sets highlighting the label’s jazz and blues lines respectively. Presently reviewed is the blues set and rollicking is the key word. The story begins with the discovery and recording of the Monroe, Louisiana cum St. Louis barrelhouse piano player Rufus "Speckled Red" Perryman, who rolled like thunder into the studio and began to redefine the blues piano he had been performing since the late 1920s. Since that time, Bob Koester seemingly never turned down any talent, not mater how obscure. This provided the label a stable of brilliance only equaled by that of Chess during the same period.

This two-disc collection was assembled by lining up all of the Delmark blues releases, slicing the set down the middle, including all of the music on the slice. The result is a great primer on Chicago blues in all of its brilliant hues. The gambit spans from the rural blues of Sleepy John Estes and Big Joe Williams (whose "Midnight Creep" was previously unreleased) to the sleek urban styles of Syl Johnson and Robert Ward, whose "I like your Style" and "New Role Soul," respectively perfected the Muscle Shoals R&B patina. The spiritual is represented with The Big Doowopper’s "I’m Getting Near My Home." The salacious is brilliantly represented by Roosevelt Syke’s "Kickin’ Motor Scooter." Chicago stalwarts J.B. Hutto, Luther Allison, Magic Sam, Walter Jacobs, Junior Wells, and Sunnyland Slim are all here. This collection includes even pieces to be released like Jimmy Burns’ "Back to the Delta," slated for release this fall.

A heavy dose of piano is present. In addition to Speckled Red and Roosevelt Sykes, other stars include Albert Ammons, Meade Lux Lewis, and Pete Johnson. This may be the true legacy provided by Delmark. It makes one hope that Koester finds some illicit Otis Spann sides from the late ‘50s. Delmark remains a vibrant source of blues music. Additionally, Junior Wells and Otis Rush recorded two of the most important blues recordings available in Hoodoo Man Blues and A Cold Day in Hell. Had this label not released an LP other than these, the label would still be as famous.

For more information, visit Delmark Records .


Track Listing: Disc 1

Title: 50 Years of Jazz and Blues: Blues | Year Released: 2003 | Record Label: Delmark Records


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