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B. B. King pays tribute to his late friend Louis Jordan with this swingin' collection of covers.
Jordan’s music has not been lacking for attention of late. First, the Broadway show "Five Guys Named Moe" became a smash hit on the strength of his tunes. Then a horde of zoot-suited ex-rockers became Jordan imitators during the retro-swing craze. With the swing thing now waning, the King of the Blues has decided the time is right to put his own stamp on Jordan's ground-breaking songs.
King's versions are less rowdy than Jordan’s originals, but they possess plenty of soul and charm. Despite the fact that nearly every song includes a concise, swinging guitar solo, Lucille pretty much takes a back seat on this one. The songs are the real focus of attention, and King sings them with style and affection.
King is supported by some great players, including Dr. John (piano), New Orleans legend Earl Palmer (drums), jazzman Russell Malone (rhythm guitar), and three of Ray Charles’ finest collaborators in Hank Crawford (alto sax), David Fathead Newman (tenor sax) and Marcus Belgrave (trumpet). The musicians play with a kind of restrained tastefulness that reinforces King’s stylish, citified approach to Jordan’s music. Credit Crawford for some imaginative horn arrangements.
Highlights include an amusing duet version of "Is You Is, or Is You Ain't (My Baby)" featuring King with Dr. John. There's also an irresistible clap-along version of "Saturday Night Fish Fry." As you’d expect, King really shines on the more blues-oriented tracks like "Somebody Done Changed The Lock On My Door," the shuffle "Ain't That Just Like a Woman," and a slow rumba version of "Early in the Mornin'."
King’s past interpretations of "Caldonia" and "Let The Good Times Roll" were far punchier than the covers included here, but the rest of the album swings with confidence and ease. King's vocals may have lost some of their edge, but he's still the most soulful 74-year-old on the planet, and his supporting cast couldn't be better. Few artists could pay better tribute to the man who invented R&B.
Jazz is a continuing revelation. The best show I ever attended was the
Roots Picnic at Penn's Landing in Philadelphia, or was it Robert
Glasper's Experiment at Lincoln Center, or was it Chick Corea with
Brian Blade at Oberlin College? Most of all I enjoy playing guitar and
composing beats with my Brooklyn-based group Space Captain.