Some reviews write themselves and this is one of them. The good people at Delmark have recently acquired the master tapes to Paul Affeldt's Euphonic Sound label and any amount of work that might have taken is more than justified by the quality of the music.
The majority of these sides, no longer hidden from history, were recorded in Chicago in 1938 or '39. The six by Cripple Clarence Lofton are amongst them and reveal a player for whom the term charm would be a little patronizing. Indeed, calling him a force of nature covers it but tells nothing of his particular gifts, the way he was in thrall to singular rhythmic imperatives, or how the sheer goodness of spirit, which ensures his playing will never lose its allure for anyone with ears to listen, works its magic. It all comes to fruition on "Mistaken Blues," topped off as it is by his world-weary yet somehow gravity defying voice; his right hand seems to take on a life of its own too.
Meade Lux Lewis was a paragon of the idiom, and here the sheer drive of his left hand on "Doll House Boogie"whilst playing celeste with his rightis a joy to hear. He played the latter instrument on record to telling effect with Edmond Hall in February of 1941, and here as there he rescues its sound from cloying gentility. For good measure he also blowsthrough puckered lipson "Whistlin' Blues," and succeeds in transmitting his buoyant mood in a manner about which so many can only dream.
Henry Brown was a native of St. Louis and his sides were recorded there in 1960. At the time he'd recorded for the Decca and Paramount labels and it's clear that he was a musician who knew a thing or two. "22nd Street Stomp" exemplifies it, largely through the rolling bass figures and his firm yet slightly eccentric sense of dynamics.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, not even the three pianos on the aptly titled "Boogie Woogie Prayer" amount to overkill. Instead it's both a joyous shout in favour of everything positive that can be got out of life and a damn fine impression of a perpetual motion machine. Whoever came up with the description of a left hand like God surely knew what they were talking about. In short music like this, in all its joy, power and spontaneity, is an affirmation of life.
Track Listing: Pinetop's Blues; G-Flat Blues; Streamline Train; Pitchin' Boogie; Mistaken Blues; Travelin' Blues; I Don't Know; Mercy Blues; Doll House Boogie; Whistlin' Blues; Deep Morgan; 22nd Street Stomp; Pickin'Em Out Again; Dirty Dozens; Dad's Piece; Pinetop's Boogie Woogie; Right String But The Wrong Yo-Yo; Boogie Woogie Prayer; Closing Time.
Personnel: Albert Ammons: piano (1, 18); Pete Johnson: piano (2, 18); "Cripple" Clarence Lofton: piano, vocal (3-8); Meade Lux Lewis: piano, celeste (9, 10, 18, 19); Henry Brown: piano, vocal (11-13); Speckled Red: piano, vocal (14-17).
Jazz and the blues--because together this musical brother and sister speak from our nation's days of the current cultural affairs and the authenticity and truth of a place where the rhythms held the pulse and the drums the heartbeat, representing every step closer the meat on the bone
Jazz and the blues--because together this musical brother and sister speak from our nation's days of the current cultural affairs and the authenticity and truth of a place where the rhythms held the pulse and the drums the heartbeat, representing every step closer the meat on the bone. Feet in the dirt, or barefoot on a stage with sequins--it's soul beats in my chest.
I was first exposed to jazz while others listened to surf music in the '50s and '60s, it was Monk, Miles, Satchmo and Ella, Rosemary Clooney and Julie London followed. Margaret Whiting, Les McCann, Willie Bobo, Andy Simpkins, Snooky Young, Bill Basie and Helen Humes. The first time I heard Topsy, Take 2, I about passed out at the age of ten.
I've hung with Les McCann who more than 30 years after our first meeting became my duet partner on my CD, Don't Go To Strangers. Karen Hernandez from the start, Jack Le Compte on drums, Lou Shoch on bass, Steve Rawlins as my arranger and pianist, Grant Geissman - guitar genius, Nolan Shaheed, Richard Simon, and more. The big boys. My Red Hot Papas. The best show I ever attended was...
I met Helen Humes first back in 1981 and helped turn one Playboy Jazz Festival night into her tribute, bring the Basie Band to stage, her joy boys. Before she took the stage for the last time to sing, If I could Be With You One Hour Tonight thousands of copies of the newspaper I wrote for carried her story. It was kismet, her being held by Joe Williams backstage. Soon in my life were the great Linda Hopkins who told me I sang the song she wrote better than her, which floored me of course, the energizing Barbara Morrison and the stellar Marilyn Maye who guided me professionally.
My advice to new listeners... let your backbone slip and feel your body stripping back the barriers that prevent us from being one with the music.
Remember none of us are strangers, we just haven't met yet.