Sunday, October 10, 2010

Floyd McDaniel - West Side Baby (Delmark, 1994, 2010)

Guitarist and singer Floyd McDaniel had a lengthy and successful career in the Chicago blues scene playing a subtle, jazz influenced music that was very accessible yet remained compelling and exciting. On this live recording from Europe, he is backed by Dave Specter and the Bluebirds, a tight ensemble that gives McDaniel the support he needs while not getting in his way. T-Bone Walker appears to be McDaniel's guiding star, and one of the highlights of the recording is Walker's "Mean Old World" and with Specter's group backing, he wrings a lot of emotion from the dark and haunting song. He sings the classic "Route 66" as he feels Nat "King" Cole would, and gives the music a buoyant swing feel. Swing and jazz also infuse their cover of another great Chicago musician, the saxophonist Gene Ammons' "Red Top" which gives Specter a chance to stretch out with some nice jazzy guitar licks and McDaniel to compose some spontaneous lyrics that meld jazz and blues. He covers a wide range of music including the dark "Blackwater Blues" by Bessie Smith and an upbeat version of the standard "Sweet Home Chicago" that gets the audience involved, singing and clapping along. This was a very classy and well performed album. McDaniel was well into his 70's when this was recorded, but has the exuberance and stamina of a much younger man. Specter's group provides excellent support, and anyone interested in hearing a fine set of Chicago blues would be satisfied with this album. West Side Baby -

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