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Craig Horton is one of the great well-kept secrets of the modern blues. A Chicago-bred veteran of gigs with Little Walter, The Dells, Sam Myers & the Mississippi Delta Blues Band, Chuck Berry, Sam Cooke, The Inkspots and many other top acts, Horton has until now suffered from too little name recognition. He is an unacknowledged master of the electric blues, shoutin’ and twangin’ in the spirit of Freddie King and Luther Allison. This is Horton’s first solo effort, and it’s enough to make a body yell, “Where ya been all my life?!”
Horton and his passel of Bay Area bluesmen wail and holler through a dozen sweaty blues gems, mostly originals by the frontman or his band members. Nothing too cerebral here, just musings on the nature and interactions of man and woman which are, after all, at the root of all good blues tunes. Influences here range from New Orleans grooves to Ray Charles and Paul Butterfield, all addressed with passion and love. One unexpected cover is Mose Allison’s “Nightclub”, a cheery up-tempo number that’s guaranteed to cause rampant foot-stompin’. Horton’s blue conviction is especially evident on slower numbers like “Spellbound”, with Jim Pugh’s organ subtly coaxing him along.
Two 1962-vintage tunes by Horton’s old cohort Jump Jackson are covered here. “Ridin’ In My Jaguar” features some especially blistering guitar and Bob Welsh’s rollicking Chicago-style piano, while “Midnight Shuffle” backs up an interview clip with Horton reminiscing about the good ol’ days. Standout tracks include the boogiein’ opener, “Chest Pain Blues”, and the more relaxed “3 Days and 3 Nights”. In an era when many blues musicians feel obligated to modernize the genre for the new century, Craig Horton gives us reason to believe in the old school of electrified blues. Tell it, brother!
Track Listing: Chest Pain Blues; 3 Days And 3 Nights; One More Time; Is It True; Nightclub; That
Personnel: Craig Horton, vocals, lead guitar; Rusty Zinn, Franck Goldwasser (#3,6), rhythm guitar; Randey Hernandez, Henry Oden (#3,6), bass; Bob Welsh, rhythm guitar, keyboards; Chris Burns (#3,6), keyboards; Jim Pugh, organ; Scott Silveira, John Hanes (#3,6), drums; Chris Whynaught (#8), tenor sax; Greg Riley, tenor and baritone sax; Will Miller, trumpet; Duane Benjamin, trombone.
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.