Singing traditional blues, James Cotton captures the original foundation as it was created centuries ago. How many times have you been working hard all day long at some particular task and just felt like singing "It's been a hard journey, baby, but I don't have to cry no more." Cotton's original, "One More Mile," moves slow and emotional. He manages to interpret a field holler mood that gave rise to the blues long before worldwide acceptance. Cotton was 32 when this was recorded. In prime form, he sang a combination of R&B, soul, Chicago and traditional blues for the nightclub audience. His blues harp is used only as a fill, except for his smokin' "Midnight Creeper," which brings back the thrill. The whole band lights up explosively, quoting from pop tunes of the day and quoting Dave Brubeck verbatim. It's quite an adventure. The rest of the album remains uneven. "How Sweet It Is," for example, comes across in poor health; while the session's opening title track lights up as if for a party.
Recorded September 28, 1967 before a live audience at The New Penelope Café in Montreal, this session has its sound problems. There's no denying, however, that the band had spirit. It's that attitude that gets ya. It was about this same time that Ottawa native Dan Aykroyd "got hooked" on the blues and started experimenting with harp blowing. In Toronto, he enjoyed sessions similar to this one and came up with the ideas that would eventually lead to his Blues Brothers skits on television. A strong tie to blues roots and a youthful air will work every time.
Cotton met Sonny Boy Williamson at age nine. It was more than a mere acquaintance. The youth traveled with Williamson, learning the ropes, and working for tips outside the clubs where the veteran was appearing. Next, he teamed up with Howlin' Wolf while still a teenager and toured the Deep South. Just shy of his 20th birthday, Cotton teamed up with Muddy Waters and stayed with him for twelve years, leaving a year before this recording was made. On his own, the rising star sang the blues and led a band that allowed him to interact with guitar players. It Was A Very Good Year is testimony of what Cotton was doing at that time. Still working today and still making powerful impressions on veteran listeners, James Cotton is proof that this timeless music keeps you young forever.
Track Listing: It Was A Very Good Year; Mystery Train; She's My Baby; One More Mile; How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You); I Can't Quit You Baby; Sweet Sixteen; Midnight Creeper; Hoochie Coochie Man; You're So Fine.
Personnel: James Cotton- harmonica, vocals; Luther Tucker- guitar; Albert Gianquinto- piano; Bobby Anderson- bass; Francis Clay- drums.
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already. SOOOO... he started me off LP's by Oscar Peterson, Art Tatum, Bud Powell, Errol Garner, Bill Evans, Monty Alexander, Charlie Byrd, and Dave Brubeck... does it get any better than that? ...No, it doesn't. I was hooked!!
I met and had a master class with the late music giant John Lewis, leader of the Modern Jazz Quartet! This was at CCNY in 1977. I was blessed! It was an incredible class... how could it have been anything else?!?!
The first jazz record I bought was...I bought numerous records from my friend at the record store, as mentioned above. He introduced me to nothing but music giants/legends! I think The Dave Brubeck Quartet, Greatest Hits, was actually the first one.
My advice to new listeners... study first--understand the rudiments--solfeggio, keys, scales, and basic chords. Read a book or take a class that includes the study of chord progressions, especially in jazz. It should ideally be a piano class so you can play multiple notes together. Have a good EAR or else it's not really worth it in my view...to become a musician, a good EAR for music is about as fundamental as breathing! Learn to read chord charts--i.e., lead sheets - wherein you play various voicings of the chords--major, minor, dominant 7th (alterations of these, you can learn over time - the basic chords are most important for starters), plus the melody, on the piano or keyboard. If you have to read the exact notes, then it's not the same as actually internalizing it & getting it all into your head. If you can do this, I think you're ready not only for listening to jazz, but understanding many concepts of it! Of course...anyone can listen to jazz... but I think it's so good to also have a grasp of it.