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The emotional catch in Lou Rawls' voice and the unmistakable sound of his persona have long been staples of modern music: easy to love and comfortably familiar. When Rawls sings, everybody wants to absorb the lyrics. And following the message that accompanies each of his songs comes as natural as intimate conversation between two good friends.
When Rawls passed away in January, the world lost a troubadour who gave of himself every time out. He was a gentleman, a more than effective communicator, and a fine interpreter of the blues. Rawls' Capitol Jazz sessions featured on this 73-minute compilation date from February, 1962 to April, 1970. Three previously unissued bonus tracks from a March 11, 1963 date with the Curtis Amy Sextet appear at the end of the album.
The program includes many of Rawls' special numbers. "Southside Blues and "Tobacco Road, with all the social commentary that the veteran singer added on Lou Rawls Live, come with a built-in affinity. Throughout this particular medley performance, he has you thinkin' "Oh yeah.
Georgia on My Mind features a big band in an arrangement that includes brief musical conversations between Rawls, tenor saxophonist Teddy Edwards and organist Richard "Groove Holmes. The big band arrangement of "Why Do I Love You So includes tasty fills from guitarist Barney Kessel and pianist Gerald Wiggins. Later, Benny Golson's big band arrangement of "I Wonder features Howard Roberts' sterling guitar in close accompaniment.
Goin' to Chicago Blues showcases pianist Onzy Matthews with his octet in a bright arrangement that includes trombone and guitar conversations with the singer. Plas Johnson steps out in front of the orchestra on "One For My Baby in support of Rawls' soulful delivery. Somebody Have Mercy, from Bring it on Home, stands out as the album's high point, featuring Rawls in an extended blues conversation with guitarist Junior Lowe.
The three bonus tracks at the end serve to amplify both the singer's jazz and blues roots, as walking bass, ride cymbal, a solid rhythm section and cool horns surround Rawls with soulful, down-to-earth exchanges.
This highly recommended album includes an extensive liner note essay by Michael Cuscuna that reminds us why Lou Rawls made such a difference in our lives.
Track Listing: Motherless Child; God Bless the Child; Nobody But Me; Blues for the Weepers; Goin
Personnel: Lou Rawls: vocals; Les McCann, Eddie Beal, Don Abney, Onzy Matthews, Tommy Strode, Clayton Ivey, Phil Moore, Don Randi, Gerald Wiggins, Gildo Mahones: piano; Jimmy Bond, Leroy Vinnegar, Curtis Counce, Jim Crutcher, Henry Franklin, Carol Kaye, Jesse Boyce, Bobby Haynes, Bob West: bass; Ron Jefferson, Sharkey Hall, Alvin Stoller, Frank Butler, Doug Sides, Leroy Henderson, Earl Palmer, Jim Gordon, Freeman Brown, Mel Lee: drums; King Errison: congas; Stan Levey: percussion; Gary Coleman: vibraphone, tambourine; Richard