Wednesday, April 29, 2015

J.B. Hutto and His Hawks - Hawk Squat Expanded Edition (Delmark 1968, 2015)

J.B. Hutto was a master slide guitarist and a rousing singer originally from South Carolina but best known as a stalwart player (wearing his trademark fez) on the Chicago blues scene at its highpoint in the 1960’s. This album features Sunnyland Slim on organ and piano, and Maurice McIntyre on tenor saxophone, and stands with the music of Otis Rush and Magic Sam as one of the masterpieces of the second generation of Chicago post-war blues. The withering “Speak My Mind” opens the album and you know from the opening blast of raw slide guitar and Hutto’s commanding vocals that he does not suffer fools gladly. The sparse “Too Much Pride” continues this pattern of love and loss using a slow grind put his point across, while the storming “20% Alcohol” rips into gear with slicing guitar and powerful drumming which pulsate a tale of alcoholism and pain. They push things harder with “Hip Shakin’” which is a riotous blast of danceable heat that drives mercilessly forward. They finish up the album with the title track “Hawk Squat” with Hutto talk-singing and everyone in the band taking a solo. The extra tracks on this expanded edition are basically alternate takes of earlier performances. There are no earth shakes among them but they do show the consistent excellence of Hutto’s band on this session. J.B. Hutto would continue to record and tour for about fifteen years after this. He never quite reached these nights again, but what an extraordinary hight it is. Hawk Squat -

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