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Name any Chicago bluesman from the past 40 years, and Sam Lay has probably banged the drums behind him. Few blues skinsmen have more experience than Lay, who is best known for his stints with Howlin’ Wolf (six years), the Paul Butterfield Blues Band (until late '66) and Bob Dylan (Lay was drummer for Dylan's legendary '65 appearance at the Newport Folk Festival).
Today Lay heads up a six-piece band that generates down-and-dirty Chicago blues. At age 64, Lay still has power in those big arms of his, and he's a capable singer to boot. Rush Hour Blues is a rollicking electric blues release with some entertaining songs that deal mostly with women: good women, mean women, cheatin' women, irresistible women, fat women, thin women even self-conscious women.
Though some of the lyrics are politically incorrect ("She's got a pretty face/Somebody ought to try it/Won't be me/I'm on a fat-free diet"), some are downright sensitive ("You want to call a doctor 'bout the shape of your nose/I think you're so fine from your head to your toes").
Know that my wife, who's a fan of Gloria Steinem, says that Rush Hour Blues is her favorite among the dozens of blues CDs I've screened this month. Must be the lyrics aren't all that misogynous.
Most of the 12 cuts rock out in loose Chicago fashion with strong performances by guitarist Larry Burton, pianist/organist Celia Ann Price and harmonica man Greg "Fingers" Taylor.
Rush Hour Blues doesn't offer anything revolutionary, but it'll keep your toes tappin' and even make you chuckle once or twice.
Jazz is a creative explosion of individual freedom and communication.
I was first exposed to jazz when I was a kid. My father had a music store.
The best live performance I ever attended was Kenny Garrett in Harlem, New York.
The first jazz record I bought was Saxophone Colossus by Sonny Rollins.
My advice to new listeners is keep listening!