Saturday, February 02, 2008

Barrelhouse Blues and Boogie Woogie - Volumes 4 & 5 (Storyville, 2005)

I have always loved the sub-genre of blues piano. It has always second fiddle to the almighty guitar, at least in the modern era, but in the right hands can be equally powerful. Storyville has culled the archives of "rediscovered" bluesmen touring in Europe during the 1960's and 70's for this ever evolving series. Some of the leading lights of blues piano are here, notably Champion Jack Dupree who is featured on both of these discs with several stellar tracks. The ribald "Doctor Dupree Blues" and "Please Don't Dog Your Woman" are fine examples of his fun, upbeat material, while "When I'm Drinking" demonstrates the low down and dirty side as does Sunnyland Slim's extraordinary "Johnson Machine Gun." Memphis Slim is also well represented with rolling and rippling piano on "Memphis Blues" and "Midnight Jump." Most of the tracks on these discs have the musicians playing solo and accompanied by their own voices, which gives ample opportunity to the different styles and rhythms they employ. The liner notes on both discs are well written by blues scholar and Bessie Smith biographer Chris Albertson and they provide context for the music within. These are very well done re-issues and spread some much deserved attention to the great tradition of blues piano.

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