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Erwin Helfer has been delivering his own brand of barrelhouse, boogie-woogie, blues piano for more than 40 years. Helfer works in Chicago and that is an appropriate venue to say the least since that city as much as any can lay claim to this unique form of piano jazz/blues. After all, two pioneers, Albert Ammons and Meade "Lux" Lewis were "discovered" by impresario John Hammond while they were driving taxis in the Windy City. Helfer has worked with the best blues artists the city has to offer including Willie Mabon, Cripple Clarence Lofton and Sunnyland Slim. This album also demonstrates that perhaps Helfer was somewhat more sophisticated than some of his fellow blues/boogie-woogie compatriots. On this album, he shows that this music need not be limited to its reputation as the loud stuff heard at rent parties. Helfer's playing is outright delicate, while still scintillating, on such tunes as "In a Sentimental Mood", replete with blooming cadenzas and arpeggios, and on his own "I'm Not Hungry But I Like to Eat - Blues". "Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans" is a slowly played sentimental remembrance of all those images associated with the Crescent City. But Helfer also can boogie with the best of them. His "Dirty Dozens" is a toe tapping, shoulder and hip shaking four to the bar fun frolic. Helfer is joined on four tracks by John Brumbach and his sax including a mile a minute version of "The Sheik of Araby".
This CD is a testimonial to a distinctive, one of a kind of piano adeptness and to one of the remaining masters of the genre. Highly recommended.
Track Listing: Swanee River Boogie; Please Send Me Someone to Love; Dirty Dozens; Sweet Substitute*; The Sheik of Araby*; Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans; Homage to Pete Johnson; Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out*; See See Rider; In a Sentimental Mood; Stella*; Pooch Piddle; I'm Not Hungry But I Like to Eat - Blues; After Hours; Day Dreaming
Personnel: Erwin Helfer - Piano; John Brumbach* - Tenor Sax
Year Released: 2002
| Record Label: Sirens, The
| Style: Blues
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.