KING OF THE NEW ORLEANS KEYBOARD
How Do You Feel, Classified, One Hell Of A Nerve, Blues Rhapsody, Rockin' Pneumonia, Please Send Me Someone To Love, All By Myself, Ain't Nobody's Business, Something You Got, Harlem In Hamburg, Put Out The Light, Ray Charles Medley, Tipitina/Loberta, Junco Partner, Drown In The River, Black Night, Goodnight Sweetheart, Lonely Avenue, Stormy Monday.
No one played a piano like James Booker. His funky rolls, driving bass lines and high speed intricate runs with the right hand put him at the top with Professor Longhair, Allen Toussaint and the rest of the New Orleans keyboard wizards but he had an originality and inventiveness that made him stand out. It didn't matter whether he was blasting out old rockers like Rockin' Pneumonia or coasting through his own lush arrangement of Please Send Me Someone To Love, he put extraordinarily special moves into all his performances. Listen to him unpicking the music on Ray Charles Medley and reassembling it in his own style or adding layer upon layer of intricately creative notes to Tipitina/Loberta and you'll understand what I mean.
He could play jazz, rock'n'roll, New Orleans classics and even classical music with equal ease and, although he'd never consider himself a bluesman, when he started rolling out the blue notes on tracks like Lowell Fulson's Black Night and Ray Charles Lonely Avenue, he was magnificent and his version of T-Bone's Stormy Monday is simply spine chilling.
Recorded live in Germany in the late 70s, in front of an ecstatic audience, the performances on ‘King Of New Orleans Keyboard' are dynamite. From the urgent boogie Junco Partner and the adventurous ramblings on Blues Rhapsody to the feverish stride lick on the Allen Toussaint pastiche Classified and the funky drive of One Hell Of A Nerve, this CD is a rambunctious tour de force of glorious piano from one of America's most talented players.
Review Date: January 2012