Thursday, January 7, 2010
James BOOKER - Junco Partner 1976
Recorded at Sea-Saint Studio, New Orleans, Louisiana in February 1976
1993 Issue HNCD 1359
Though late New Orleans genius James Booker belongs to a lineage of the city's ivory ticklers that includes Jelly Roll Morton, Tuts Washington and Professor Longhair, his oddball musical approach, and his unique blend of classical, R&B, barrelhouse boogie, and jazz, almost requires its own musicological category. On this 1976 release, the artist's first full solo recording, Booker veers from treatments of Chopin ("Black Minute Waltz") to standards ("Sunny Side of the Street") to marvelously revamped versions of "Good Night Irene," "Junco Partner" and "Pop's Dilemma" (a song written by Booker's father) with a skill that flat-out astonishes.
Booker's technical facility, and the ease and energy in his marriage of different styles, gives his performances an almost palpable electricity. On cuts such as "Pixie," the pianist reveals his stride playing skills, his right hand ranging over ringing melodies as his left pounds out bass lines--the whole sounding like several pianists playing simultaneously. In addition to his formidable wizardry at the keys, Booker's textured, gospel-inflected tenor lends color to many cuts (the joyful "Make a Better World" is one of the highlights here). JUNCO PARTNER is the definitive document of this Big Easy secret.
James Booker's ability to tangle up everything from barrelhouse boogie to high-speed classical vamping, sometimes within a phrase, and his impossibly expressive voice made him a singular figure in New Orleans blues. There just isn't enough recorded material to go around, but Junco Partner's live 1976 set has definitive versions of his most important songs.
By Mike McGuirk.
01. Black Minute Waltz 3:10
02. Good Night Irene 5:37
03. Pixie 3:38
04. On the Sunny Side of the Street 2:31
05. Make a Better World 4:52
06. Junco Partner 5:06
07. Put Out the Light 3:07
08. Medley: 6:44
a. Blues Minuet
b. Until the Real Thing Comes Along
c. Baby Won't You Please Come Home
09. Pop's Dilemma 3:26
10. I'll Be Seeing You 2:47