Doug Sahm


Douglas Wayne Sahm (November 6, 1941 – November 18, 1999), was born in San Antonio,Texas. Sahm was a child prodigy in country music, but became a significant figure in other genres. A multitalented musician, Sahm was proficient on dozens of musical instruments and a songwriter who reveled in a variety of styles, mostly C&W, R&B, Blues and Tex-Mex or Tejano Music. In the mid-60’s he leaded The Sir Douglas Quintet. He also performed under his own band. He would later co-found the Texas Tornados with Augie Meyers, Freddy Fender, and Flaco Jimenez. For the last years of his career, he formed The Last Real Texas Blues Band. Today, Sahm is considered one of the most important figures in what is identified as Tex-Mex music. He was also a lifelong baseball fan. Sometimes he is called Douglas Saldaña.

Little Doug
Little Doug

He grew up in San Antonio and, as a teenager, Sahm put together the first white local R&B band, including tenor saxophonist Eracleo “Ricky” Morales and recorded regularly for the tiny Harlem record company, from 1958 to 1964, when he was discovered by record producer Huey Meaux, with whom he signed for his Tribe record label. Under the influence of the British invasion, Meaux transformed the image of Doug Sahm and promoted him nationally as The Sir Douglas Quintet, including organist Augie Mayers, Jack Barber, John Perez, and Frank Morin. One of his first hits under the new record label was “She’s about a mover”, released in 1965, which reminds The Beatles’ “She’s a woman”:

In the late 60’s, he moved to California, releasing the hit “Mendocino” in 1969, but Sahm wasn’t a regular hit maker and, in 1971, he went back to Texas, setting up in Austin.

In 1973 Sahm signed with Atlantic Records, releasing his first solo album under his own name, “Doug Sahm and Band”. Perhaps, one of the best recordings by Doug Sahm, other than Sir Douglas Quintet and Texas Tornados. A blend of C&W, Tex-Mex and Texas Blues performed by such great musicians as Sahm, Bob Dylan, Dr. John, Augie Meyer, David “Fathead” Newman, David Bromberg, Wayne Jackson, Flaco Jimenez, Jack Walrath, to name just a few, and produced by Jerry Wexler, Arif Mardin (who also plays electric piano on the recording) and Doug Sahm. From the opening title “(Is anybody going to) San Antone”, every single track is great. “Blues stay away from me”, with Bob Dylan sharing vocals with Doug Sahm and playing a guitar solo is superb. “Poison love” has great solos by Augie Meyer on piano, Flaco Jimenz on accordion and David Bromberg on dobro. Dylan’s own recording of one the tunes, “Wallflower”, is available on the Bootleg Series Vol. 1-3. However, the album didn’t sell very well.

During the rest of the 70’s and the 80’s, Sahm recorded and toured extensively, whether under his own name or as the continuous line-up changing Sir Douglas Quintet. The first incarnation of The Texas Tornados, took place in the mid 70’s too. In October 1975, Doug taped his first appearence on Austin City Limits, which was broadcasted in the spring of 1976. Sahm was also a sought-after session musician, appearing on releases of other artists, including The Grateful Dead. He sang backing vocals on Willie Nelson’s 1977 gospel album, The Troublemaker. In 1983, Sahm and Meyers signed with the Swedish Sonet label, and made several extensive European tours that revitalized their careers. The single “Meet Me In Stockholm” from their Midnight Sun LP went platinum and was one of the biggest selling records ever in Scandinavia.

In the second half of the 80’s, Doug moved to Canada and then returned to Texas in 1988. In the mid 70’s Sahm had formed a band called Texas Tornados, that included Mayers on keyboards, Atwood Allen on guitar and vocals, Uncle Mickey Moody on acoustic guitar, Harry Hess on pedal steel and slide guitar and harmonica, Jack Barber on bass, George Rains on drums, but they split up after two albums. In 1989, Sahm along Flaco Jiménez, Augie Meyers and Freddy Fender formed the definitive line-up of The Texas Tornados, that Doug pitched as the Tex-Mex reincarnation of The Beatles. They recorded six albums, one of them entirely in Spanish.

According to Doug’s son Shawn: “Pop was always telling me about this dream he had of forming the Mexican Beatles. John, Paul, George and Ringo–he had it all planned out. Soon the world was going to be talking about Augie, Flaco, Freddy and Doug”. Besides the four principals, The Texas tornados included at one point or another other musicians such as Louie Ortega and Derek O’Brian on guitars, Speedy Parks, Louis Terrazas and Jack barber on bass, and George Rains, Ernie Durawa and Mike Buck on drums, as well as a horn section led by Ricky Morales. They won a Grammy Award in 1990 for “Best Mexican/American Performance with the song “Soy de San Luis”.

Tired of The Texas Tornados, in 1995 Sahm formed The Last Real Texas Blues Band and toured with them before his passing in 1999. A Grammy nominated and one of the last projects and recordings by Doug is the self-titled album. It includes Texas blues and New Orleans R&B, sung by Sahm’s great and driving forceful voice and backed by a powerful horn section. Great set of stomping Louisiana and Texas Blues and R&B standards with new brilliant arrangements, such as “Reconsider Baby” (Lowell Fulson), “My girl Josephine” (Fats Domino), “Bad Boy” (Louis Armstrong), “Honky Tonk” (Bill Doggett) or “T-Bone Shuffle” (T. Bone Walker) to name just a few. Some of the tracks have been recorded live at Antone’s Nightclub in Austin, Texas. Doug Sahm sings, plays guitar and piano and produces the album with Derek O’Brian, who also plays guitar on some of the tracks, sharing the role with guitarist Denny Freeman. Great instrumental solos throughout the whole album and lots of Hammond B-3 organ too. In Sahm’s own words, this album is dedicated to Clifford Antone, Jerry Wexler and all the real blues dudes.

The album was nominated for a Grammy, but lost out to John Lee Hooker. A second album, entitled “The Last Real Texas Blues Band Live in Stockholm”, recorded in 1997, was released in 2012.
Last Real Texas in Stockholm

Sahm died of a heart attack in his sleep in a motel room in Taos, New Mexico, on November 18, 1999. He was 58.

In 2009, this album by various artists, including Flaco Jiménez, Los Lobos, Delbert McClinton, Jimmie Vaughan, Joe King Carrasco and others, was released: Keep your soul

Freddy Fender passed away in 2006, but Augie Meyers and Flaco Jiménez reunited with Doug’s son, Shawn Sahm in a new recording by The Texas Tornados, that includes five previously unreleased vocal performances by Fender. The collection, entitled “Esta Bueno,” includes new songs written by Fender such as the swamp pop ballad “If I Could Only,” an instant new Tornados-style classic written by Doug and Shawn Sahm “Who’s to Blame, Señorita?” and several Augie Meyers songs recorded for the first time by the Tornados, such as “Velma from Selma” and “My Sugar Blue.” The album was produced by Shawn Sahm and was released nationally by Ray Benson’s Bismeaux Records on March 2, 2010.

In 2012, a radio broadcast from 1973, “Inlaws and Outlaws (All Access), Doug Sahm and Band 1973” was also released.

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Attica Blues Band Project

On September 9th, 1971, a riot broke out in Attica Prison, New York State, and quickly spread throughout the whole penitentiary demanding political rights and improvement in the inmates conditions, in response to the insufficiently clarified death of prisoner George Jackson, a black radical activist, member of the Black Panthers, who was shot dead after being involved in the murder of six guards while trying to escape, along with other inmates, from California’s San Quentin Prison on August 21, 1971. For five days, 1,000 prisoners out of the about 2,200 inmates, controlled one of four yards encircled by the Attica Prison buildings, where they held 42 hostages, guards and civilian employees. During the following four days of negotiations, authorities agreed to 28 of the prisoners’ demands, but would not agree to demands for complete amnesty from criminal prosecution for the prison takeover or for the removal of Attica’s superintendent. By the order of then-Governor Nelson Rockefeller, state police took back control of the prison by force, shooting at the rioters. When the uprising was over, at least 39 people were dead, including ten correctional officers and civilian employees, all killed by the troopers’ bullets. At first, the administration tried to blame the guards’ deaths on the rioters, before being forced to admit culpability.

In January 1972, Archie Shepp recorded the album “Attica Blues” for the Impulse! label, in tribute to this rebellion and its tragic outcome. In a moment when Shepp musical interests were changing, the music goes from blues and ellingtonian swing to powerful funky. However, the outcome didn’t fulfill the composer’s expectations. Forty years after the release of Attica Blues, Archie Shepp revisits this monument of jazz history with a new big band composed of a mix of experienced artists and young jazz musicans from the United States and France, decided to record the album again with a big band, new music and new arrangements. The new big band will perform classics from the original album as well as newly added compositions with the objective of releasing a live album + a documentary on the Attica riots. On 2012 he started a crow funding among their followers in order to make the recording. In June 2013, the funding was completed and the new album will be released in January of 2014under the title of “I hear the sound”.

En 1971, en la prisión correccional de Attica, en el estado de Nueva York, se produjeron violentos incidentes en demanda de derechos políticos y de mejoras en las condiciones penitenciarias de los prisioneros. El detonante estalló el 9 de setiembre de 1971, como consecuencia de la muerte del interno George Jackson, activista radical negro, militante de los Black Panthers, muerto a tiros al estar supuestamente involucrado en el homicidio de 6 guardianes mientras intentaba escapar, junto a otros internos, de la prisión de San Quintín, en California, el 21 de agosto del mismo año, un incidente nunca suficientemente aclarado. Unos 1.000 de los aproximadamente 2.200 internos encarcelados en Attica, se rebelaron y se hicieron con el control de una parte de la prisión, tomando 42 rehenes, entre guardianes y empleados de la penitenciaría. La revuelta duró 5 días, durante los cuales las negociaciones no llegaron a buen término, pues las reivindicaciones de los presos no fueron aceptadas íntegramente. El entonces gobernador del estado de Nueva York, Nelson Rockefeller, ordenó que la policía estatal recuperara el control de la prisión empleando todos los medios necesarios, produciéndose enfrentamientos en los que los agentes policiales dispararon contra los internos, dejando un balance de 39 personas muertas, incluyendo 10 oficiales y empleados civiles de la penitenciaría.

En 1972, el saxofonista Archie Shepp compuso y grabó la música del álbum “Attica Blues” para el sello Impulse!, dedicado a los trágicos incidentes ocurridos en la prisión. En un momento en que los intereses musicales de Shepp estaban cambiando, el álbum incluye desde blues y swing, en el más puro estilo ellingtoniano, hasta un potente funk, aunque los resultados no dejaron completamente satisfecho a su compositor. Después de 40 años, Archie Shepp ha decidido volver a grabar el álbum, ahora con una big band formada por músicos americanos y franceses, nuevos temas y nuevos arreglos, y el rodaje de un documental sobre los incidentes ocurridos entonces, para lo cual comenzó una recaudación de fondos o “crow funding” entre sus seguidores, para alcanzar $20.000 necesarios para realizar el proyecto. En junio de 2013 ya se había alcanzado esa suma y el nuevo álbum se publicará en enero de 2014 bajo el título de “I hear the sound”.

Posted in Art, Culture, Music

Jimi Hendrix’s unfulfilled project

Jimi Hendrix

Jimi Hendrix unfulfilled project

The sudden and unexpected death of Jimi Hendrix on September 18th, 1970, left some of his projects unfulfilled.

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Road Trip: The Blues Highway, Tennessee and Mississippi — National Geographic

Road Trip: The Blues Highway, Tennessee and Mississippi — National Geographic.

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Swamp Pop


Atchafalaya Basin, Louisiana.

There is no doubt that Louisiana is one of the states with the most diversity of music styles in the U.S.A. and it has also an old, wide and deep cultural heritage, beyond music. Jazz, Blues, R&B and Gospel music have always been associated with Louisiana and other southern states, but  Cajun, Zydeco, New Orleans R&B and Funk, Swamp Pop, New Orleans Brass Bands, Voodoo Music and Mardi Gras Indians Music are unique to Louisiana. Some of these styles were born in southern Louisiana, some others in the city of New Orleans, the most worldwide known city in the state.

Swamp pop, one of the least known music styles of Louisiana, is a blend of rock, country, soul, New Orleans R&B and Cajun music, which emerged in the mid 50´s and early 60’s from central and southern Louisiana, and around Baton Rouge, the capital of the state, played mostly but not exclusively, by white musicians. Some scholars state that Swamp pop is a mating of white and black Louisiana pop styles. The term “Swamp pop” is credited to British journalist John Boven, author of books such as “South to Louisiana. The Music of the Cajun Bayous” and “New Orleans Rhythm and Blues”, among others. Swamp poppers blended traditional forms and Creole of Cajun with large doses of early electrified Rock&Roll and R&B, mixing black and white cultures in the process. Its sound can be typified by highly emotional lyrics, tripletting honky-tonk pianos, undulating bass lines, roaring horn sections and a strong rhythm and blues backbeat; sometimes fiddles and accordions can be heard too. It is exemplified by slow ballads like the black swamp poppers Cookie and the Cupcakes’ “Mathilda”, recorded in 1958 and considered by many fans as the unofficial swamp pop anthem.

New Orleans R&B style is one of the main influences, particularly Fats Domino’s hits. Rod Bernard might be considered as one of the pioneers of swamp pop and his “This Should Go On Forever” one of the first hits in the genre.

Phil Phillips, another black swamp popper, made #1 in 1959 with the classic ballad “Sea of Love”.

There were not many national swamp pop hits, but the sound became and remained very popular in southern Louisiana, were the genre quickly spread to the state primitive recording studios, although a few swamp poppers made early sessions in New Orleans, usually at Cossimo Matassa’s Recording Studio, where other artists such as Ray Charles, Professor Longhair or Fats Domino made records too; others even went to southeast Texas studios. Floyd Soileau recorded many releases for the regional market, on the Jin and Swallow labels. Cookie and The Cupcakes, Tommy McLain, Belton Richard and Johnnie Allan were some of his most remarkable artists. Johnnie Allan’s version of Chuck Berry’s “Promise Land” is an example of Floyd Soileau’s work.

In the late 60′s, a funkier version of swamp pop emerged from artists such Danny James, who used bluesy guitar licks as heard on “Boogie in the Mud”. This variation of the style was an integral part Credence Clearwater Revival’s sound, especially on “Born on the Bayou”.

One of the swamp pop artists, John Fred and the Playboys, influenced by the early Beatles, scored a worldwide success in 1968 with “Judy in Disguise”:

The literature on swamp pop is rather scarce. The only known book focused on the style is a terrific one, entitled “Swamp Pop. Cajun and Creole Rhythm and Blues”, written by Shane K. Bernard, son of the swamp pop pioneer Rod Bernard.

Swamp Pop

The genre is mentioned in other books on Louisiana or American music, such as the above mentioned “South to Louisiana. The Music of the Cajun Bayous” or “New Orleans Rhythm and Blues”, both by John Boven, “Music USA (The Rough Guide)” by Richie Untenberger, or “Louisiana Music”, by Rick Koster.

Swamp pop spread to England, where it has a small but faithful and staunch audience. In 1965 The Rolling Stones recorded Barbara Lynn’s “Oh Baby (We Got a Good Thing Going’)”, which sounds like swamp pop.

However, the most astonishing and intriguing example of swamp pop influence overseas is the Lennon & McCartney’s “Oh, Darling”, from the Beatles’ “Abbey Road” album.

When the album was released in 1969, many swamp pop fans assumed that the song had been recorded by a south Louisiana artist, because “Oh! Darling” sounds like an authentic swamp pop ballad, with the arrangements that are found in many songs from that area. However, none of The Beatles is known to admit the influence of south Louisiana music. Just George Harrison acknowledged the song as a typical 1950’s – 60’s because of the song form. But The Beatles’ song wasn’t available on single format, to the disappointing of many swamp pop fans in south Louisiana, who had been calling radio stations and record stores to check its availability on that format. As a result, producer Lee Lavergne hire Jay Randall to record the song for Lavergne’s small Lanor record company.

Therefore, there is full circle: a swamp popper copying The Beatles copying swamp poppers. Years later, former Led Zeppelin singer Robert Plant with his new band, The Honey Drippers, covered Phil Phillips’ “Sea of Love”, with great success in 1984.

Not all music scholar, critics and musicians accept swamp pop as a music style by itself. Chris Strawichtz, founder of Arhoolie Records, in an article for “American Folk Music Occasional” in 1970, mocks a swamp pop band in Lafayette stating that they were “only a band trying to imitate Fats Domino”. Even Dr. Jonn states that swamp pop consists only of slow ballads with two chord progressions.

A swamp pop artist who has to be mentioned is Warren Storm, because of his musical multifaceted activity: besides a great singer, he is also a drummer and a guitarist. He learnt to play drums and guitar from his father. Born Warren Schexnider in 1937, in Abbeville, Louisiana, he spoke only French until his third year of school. His father, Simon Schexnider, who was a drummer in south Louisiana, and his mother never learned to speak too much English. Years later, Warren changed his last name to Storm. As a singer, Warren Storm’s version of the old country “Prisoner’s song” reached number eighty-one on Billboard Hot in 1958.

Storm never reached the national hit parade again, but he kept an intense musical activity in Louisiana playing and recording with local musicians. As a drummer, Storm made records with a ton of artists, working at the legendary Jay Miller studios in Crowley, Louisiana, where he was the “in house” drummer for swamp pop pioneers Johnnie Allan, Rob Bernard among many others, and blues singers and musicians such as Slim Harpo, Katie Webster, Silas Hogan, Lazy Lester, etc. He performed on show bills with Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley, who once invited Warren back to Graceland for a Coca Cola and to sing back his own hit on the house piano. In the late 90’s Storm experienced a resurgence in popularity when he joined the Lil’ Band of Gold, an all-star south Louisiana band. The formerly nine-piece supergroup included, guitarist C. C. Adcock, a musician of meteoric talent who has worked with has Bo Diddley and Buckwheat Zydeco; accordionist Steve Riley, who by the age of 13, was considered an accordion prodigy and by 15 he had been discovered by and was touring Europe with, the founding father of Cajun music, Dewey Balfa. In 1988, Steve started his own band, Steve Riley and The Mamou Playboys, who have recorded thirteen albums, won countless awards and been nominated for four Grammy Awards; Richard Comeaux of River Road on pedal steel guitar; pianist David Egan, of Filé and his latest band, 20 Years of Trouble; bassist Dave Ronson has worked with John Hiatt and Sonny Landreth; a horn section, the St. Martin’s Horns, formed by three saxophone players: Dickie Landry, Pat Breaux and David Greely, who played also fiddle and was from the Mamou Playboys too; and eventually, the legendary Warren Storm on drums, who shares lead vocals with Steve Riley, David Egan and Adcock. In 2000, they released their eponymous debut album.

Lil' Band O'Gold debut CD
“Shirley”, the song that opens the album, is a rendition of the original tune by John Fred & his Playboys.

Lil’ Band O’ Gold resurrected swamp pop tradition while putting its own stamp on the rock music coming out of Southwest Louisiana, rarely performed outside its home base in Lafayette, LA, because of its members’ commitments to other bands. Adcock co-founded Lil’Band O’Gold with Steve Riley in 1998 during Monday night jams at the Swampwater Saloon in Lafayette, LA. The two friends dreamed up the idea for the group during a late-night meal of pork chop sandwiches at the famous Maison Creole restaurant in Lafayette. Both wanted to revisit the honky tonk sounds of their swamp pop heroes from the ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s. However, appearances at Midsummer Nights Swing at Lincoln Center Plaza in New York City in 2000 and concerts at the Crawfish Festival in Stanhope, NJ, and at Swamp Stomp at Wolf Trap in Virginia in 2001 exposed the group to an audience outside its home state of Louisiana. However, David Greely left the band years later and guitarist Lil’ Buck Senegal, who has played with Buckwheat Zydeco and many others, and another swamp pop pioneer, Tommy McLain, joined the band but not in a regular basis.

Robert Plant, former singer from Led Zeppelin, has joined Lil’ Band O’Gold on stage several times. The band is touring with him in 2013 summer

In 2010, the band released their second album, “The Promised Land”, which is also the title of a documentary on the band.

The promise land Lil' Band O'Gold

In 2012 the band released their third recording, “Lil’ Band O’Gold Plays Fats”.

Lil' Band O'Gold plays Fats
Both records have been released in Australia only. Anywhere else, they have been imported.

Elvis Costello has joined Lil’ Band O’Gold performing live too. On this video he is sharing vocals with Tommy McLain.

Lil’ Band O’Gold is on a documentary, “The Promised Land”, made by Room 609 Films, which has not been released yet.

The band has been asked to support Robert Plant and his Sensational Space Shifters on the Gulf South dates of his 2013 US summer tour!

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Posted in Culture, Music

Out of the frying pan


Remarkable, fresh and joyful. These three words are the best I found to describe this album, released in 1968. This is another overlooked and underestimated rock album. When I got it, most the original songs, instrumentally covered on it, were already known. It didn’t matter; they sound as if they are brand new songs. From Rock hits such as Rolling Stones’ “Jumping Jack flash”, to Soul gems such as Aretha Franklin’s “Baby I love you”, to Jazz standards such as Oscar Peterson’s “Hymn to freedom” or Bobby Timmons’ “This here”. Two songs are penned by Mick Weaver, Wynder K. Frogg’s real name, who is the leader playing Hammond organ and piano, backed by an incredible and powerful band including Dick Heckstall-Smith and Chris Mercer on saxes and Henry Lowther on trumpet, all of them from John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers’ horn section; Reebop Kwaku Baah from Traffic on percussion; Mick Weaver replaced Steve Winwood in Traffic for a short while when the last left the band to join Eric Clapton and form Blind Faith. Traffic became Mason, Capaldi, Wood and Frog, soon shortened to Wooden Frog. They played a few gigs before dissolving three months later when Traffic reformed. The rest of Wynder K. Frog’s band includes Neil Hubbard on guitar, Alan Spenner on bass and Bruce Rowland on drums. Last but not least, the record producers Gus Dudgeon and Jimmy Miller, responsible for that terrific sound. Released in 1968, it took more than 25 years to get the CD reissue; however, it didn’t lose its freshness and joy. Through the years Mick Weaver has been the keyboard player for great blues artists such as Taj Mahal, Otis Grand and Keef Hartley, to name just a few. (As published on Amazon)

Mick Weaver, el verdadero nombre de Wynder K. Frog, es un pianista y organista británico no muy conocido, pues la mayoría de su carrera ha transcurrido como músico de acompañamiento o de sesión en estudios de grabación; ha acompañado a grandes nombres como Taj Mahal, Keef Hartley o Otis Grand. También reemplazó por un breve período a Steve Winwood en Traffic, cuando este último dejó al grupo temporalmente para formar Blind Faith junto a Eric Clapton.Traffic pasó a llamarse entonces Mason, Capaldi, Wood and Frog, y poco después Wooden Frog. Hicieron unos pocos bolos antes de disolverse unos meses más tarde cuando los originales Traffic volvieron a reunirse.

Extraordinario, auténtico y alegre; estas son las 3 mejores palabras que he encontrado para describir este álbum, publicado en 1968, otro de los más subestimados e infravalorados en la historia del rock. Cuando lo conseguí en versión vinilo, hace ya mucho tiempo, la mayoría de las canciones eran conocidas pues habían sido éxitos para otros artistas, pero no importa pues en este álbum están en versiones instrumentales y los nuevos arreglos hacen que suenen como si fueran nuevas y flamantes. Desde éxitos de rock como “Jumping Jack Flash” de The Rolling Stones, pasando por joyas del soul como “Baby, I love you”, de Aretha Franklin, hasta temas de jazz, como “Hymn to freedom” de Oscar Peterson o “This here” de Bobby Timmons. Dos de los temas del álbum están firmados por el propio Weaver. En este álbum interpreta y dirige la mayoría de los temas al órgano Hammond y algunos menos al piano, acompañado por un puñado de excelentes músicos, como el desaparecido Dick Heckstall-Smith y Chris Mercer en los saxos, y Henry Lowther en la trompeta, ambos procedentes de la sección de viento de The Bluesbreakers de John Mayall; Neil Hubbard en la guitarra, Alan Spanner al bajo, el también desaparecido percusionista de Traffic, Rebop Kwaku Baah, y Bruce Rowland a la batería. Por último, pero no por ello menos importantes, los productores discográficos Gus Dudgeon y Jimmy Miller son responsables del tremendo sonido del álbum. Publicado por primera vez en 1968, se necesitaron 25 años para conseguir la reedición en CD de este estupendo álbum.

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Blues All Star Reunion

Super Black Blues

This is one of the best urban blues album ever recorded. Not only is the music terrific, but also the reunion of such great musicians as Big Joe Turner, T-Bone Walker, Otis Spann, George “Harmonica” Smith and Ernie Watts, for the first and only time, backed by a brilliant rhythm section, including Ron Brown on bass, Arthur Wright on guitar and Paul Humphrey on drums, made this recording one-off. Last but not least, the producer, Bob Thiele, better known for his work with John Coltrane on Impulse. The session took place in New York, on October 17, 1969. Otis Spann, pianist for Muddy Waters before starting his own solo career, passed away a few months later, in April 1970. George “Harmonica” Smith was also the harp player for Muddy Waters before starting to perform and record under his own name.

There are only 4 long tracks on this recording, 3 of them penned by T-Bone Walker, but over 40 minutes of fresh raw real blues. Put together the Kansas City singing of Big Joe Turner, the Texas guitar and singing style of T-Bone Walker, the Chicago piano and singing style of Otis Spann, the unique harp sound and playing of George Smith, the honky tenor saxophone of Ernie Watts, and what you get is this terrific vintage recording. Joe Turner and T-Bone Walker share vocals on most of the tracks.

As it happens with other music gems, the reissue of this album on CD took a long time, 32 years. The beautiful pictures from the vinyl version are included in the CD booklet, as well as the original liner notes by Stanley Dance. (As published on

In May 1970, a second album under the title of “Super Black Blues Vol.II” was recorded, with some of the original musicians and new ones. Big Joe Turner and T. Bone Walker are on some of the tracks. Otis Spann, who passed away a few weeks before of the new recording session, was replaced on piano by Wynton Kelly, and Eddie “Cleanhead” Vinson who, according to some sources, was slated for the first album but somehow didn’t make the session, appears on this new one. The rhythm session is a new one, including Elvin Jones on drums on some tracks. This second album was produced by Bob Thiele too. However, this new album did not meet expectations achieved with the original recording.

Super Black Blues Vol. II

Este es uno de los mejores álbumes de blues urbano que se hayan producido. No solamente la música es magnífica, sino que por primera y única vez se reúnen en un estudio de grabación Big Joe Turner, T-Bone Walker, Otis Spann, George “Harmonica” Smith y Ernie Watts, acompañados de una excelente sección rítmica que incluye a Ron Brown al bajo, Arthur Wright a la guitarra y Paul Humphrey a la batería, lo que hace que esta grabación sea única e irrepetible. Por último, y no por ello menos importante, Bob Thiele, conocido por sus grabaciones con John Coltrane en Impulse, se encarga de la producción. La sesión de grabación tuvo lugar el 17 de octubre de 1969. Otis Spann, pianista de Muddy Waters antes de iniciar su propia carrera a su nombre, falleció unos meses después, en abril de 1970. George “Harmonica” Smith también era el armonicista en la banda de Muddy Waters antes de estrenar su carrera.

Solo hay 4 temas en esta grabación, 3 de ellos firmados por T. Bone Walker, pero que dan como resultado 40 minutos de fresco y auténtico blues. Juntando el estilo de cantar de Kansas City de Big Joe Turner, la forma de cantar y tocar la guitarra al estilo de Texas de T. Bone Walker, el estilo de piano de Chicago y la forma de cantar de Otis Spann, el sonido y la forma de tocar la armónica de George Smith, el estilo de saxofón tenor honky de Ernie Watts, lo que se obtiene es una grabación de una gran solera. Joe Turner y T. Bone Walker comparten la voz solista en la mayoría de los temas.

Como suele suceder con otras joyas musicales, la reedición de este álbum en CD se demoró nada menos que 32 años. Las hermosas fotografías y los comentarios de Stanley Dance del vinilo original están incluídos en el librete que acompaña al CD.

En mayo de 1970, fue realizada una segunda grabación, bajo el título de “Super Black Blues Vol.II”, con algunos de los músicos originales y otros nuevos. Big Joe Turner y T. Bone Walker aparecen en 2 temas cada uno. Otis Spann, que falleció unas semanas antes del inicio de las sesiones de grabación, fue reemplazado al piano por Wynton Kelly. Eddie “Cleanhead” Vinson, quien según algunas fuentes debería haber grabado en el primer álbum pero no pudo hacerlo, lo hace finalmente en esta secuela. La sección rítmica es completamente nueva, destacando Elvin Jones en la batería en algunos temas. La producción corre de nuevo a cargo de Bob Thiele. Sin embargo, esta nueva grabación no alcanza las expectativas logradas con el álbum original.

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