In 1983, blues legend Albert King scheduled a TV appearance on In Session, a program produced by CHCH-TV in Hamilton, Ontario. The show matched like-minded musicians in hour-long jam sessions. In advance of the show, the 60-year-old King was only told that he’d be jamming with another guitarist. His collaborator turned out to be 29-year-old Stevie Ray Vaughan, fresh from recording his first album Texas Flood.
This recording of the King-Vaughan summit is not only historic, it's a guitar-lover’s delight. Vaughan counted King as his biggest influence, and he was clearly honored to play with the blues legend that December evening. But Vaughan wasn't intimidated. In fact, his talent seems to take King by surprise in the beginning. But the master eventually counters with an impressive performance of his own. The two legends summon the right balance of competitive fire and mutual respect.
The heavyweights seem to feel each other out on the opening track, "Call It Stormy Monday." But when King suggests they tackle "that fast thing of yours with the heck of a groove to it" – "Pride and Joy" – both guitarists loosen up considerably. By the third tune, B.B. King’s "Ask Me No Questions," the sparks really fly. Other incendiary cuts include Albert’s "Blues At Sunrise, "Overall Junction" and "Match Box Blues." The session ends with a funky cover of "Don’t Lie To Me."
The between-song banter is almost as precious as the music. King remembers Vaughan as a skinny kid – "straight as a popsicle" who played with him at the Austin Coliseum 10 years earlier. He even pokes fun at Vaughan for stealing his licks on David Bowie’s hit "Let’s Dance."
King also tells Vaughan that lots of guitarists can play fast, but very few have soul. Both of these cats were drenched in soul, and they poured a lot of it out on Canadian TV some 16 years ago.
The duo was backed by King’s outstanding band: Tony Llorens on keys, Gus Thornton on bass and Michael Llorens on drums.
I was first exposed to jazz when I was tiny. My earliest memory is watching Ella Fitzgerald scat on a Christmas special when I was no older than four. Like many who are from tiny towns, my first extended exposure was listening to the high school jazz band when I was a kid
I was first exposed to jazz when I was tiny. My earliest memory is watching Ella Fitzgerald scat on a Christmas special when I was no older than four. Like many who are from tiny towns, my first extended exposure was listening to the high school jazz band when I was a kid. For some reason I remember an arrangement of Hey Jude they did. My first real exposure was Stan Kenton in the Smithville, MO high school gym. Kenton and the band director there were old friends, so he would play there from time to time. My dad took me without telling me where we were going and it was the only show he ever took me to. I remember that Bobby Shew played Send In Clowns and I damn near levitated I was so excited. The huge sound and amazing chords floored me. I believe I was 13 at the time. I immediately started practicing and taking lessons. Music became a passion and nearly a career. I also listened to Dick Wright's Jazz Show on KANU every night. I can't even start to explain what I learned lying in bed listening to Dick talk about jazz. I met him once when I was struggling to put together a solo for Joy Spring playing in a combo at KU. Stopped by his office and asked for recommendations. He showed up at my jazz ensemble rehearsal the next day with a tape with example solos. What a kind man Dick Wright was.
My advice to new listeners is to stop worrying about what music is important and focus on music you like. I spent quite a bit of my music life listening to important music I didn't necessarily like. Must say I have quite a bit more fun now listening to music that I deeply enjoy. Some of it is even important.
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