BLUES FOR BIG WALTER
ELLERSOUL RECORDS ELL 601
SOMEDAY–SHE LOVES ANOTHER MAN–WORRIED LIFE–IF IT AIN’T ME–HARD HEARTED WOMAN–GREAT SHAKES–WE’RE GONNA MOVE TO KANSAS CITY–SUGAR RAY MEDLEY–EVENING SHUFFLE–EASY–WALKING BY MYSELF–LITTLE BOY BLUE–NEED MY BABY–EASY II–RAMBLING ON MY MIND–THINK BIG
The two “Walters,” Little Walter, (born Marion Walter Jacobs), and “Big” Walter Horton, have influenced a literal lifetime of great harp players, many still active on the contemporary scene today. This Ellersoul compilation, “Blues For Big Walter,” pays tribute to the contributions of Horton’s many well-known songs performed by a group of the most talented players ever, both present and past.
Brought together by producer Ronnie Owens, this set is the culmination of his dream to pay homage to Big Walter, and the lineup of artists herein is stellar, to say the least. Leading off is Kim Wilson on harp with Big Jon Atkinson on vocals on “Someday,” and is followed by one of the great “past” bluesmen, Jimmy Rogers, on vocal, with the inimitable Bob Corritore on harp for a Chicago-styled romp thru “She Loves Another Man.” Steve Guyger is on harp and vocal on a stripped-down “If It Ain’t Me,” and comes back a bit later with a country-blues read of “Little Boy Blue.” EllerSoul labelmate Mar Wenner of The Nighthawks has a couple of fine performances, too. First up is a killer “Worried Life,” this one featuring Ivan Appelrouth on guitar and Clark Stern on piano. They return later with one of our all-time favorites, “Walking By Myself,” with Gordon Harrower on bass and vocals.
There are so many outstanding cuts on this album, that everyone will have their own favorites. We liked Li’l Ronni’s set-closer, a live recording at The Canal Room from 2009, “Think Big,” with Terry Garland on guitar, as well as Robert Jr. Lockwood with “Rambling On My Mind,” with Henry Gray on piano, and Bob Corritore on harp. Mark Hummel on harp and Sue Foley on guitar give one of Big Walter’s best-known songs, the Sun Records original, “Easy,” a very authentic read. Sugar Ray Norcia comes in with the set’s centerpiece, a nineteen-minute medley of “That Ain’t It,” “Walter’s Boogie,” “Everybody’s Fishing,” “Don’t Get Around Much Any More,” and “Blueberry Hill.”
This set is a blues-lover’s (and, especially, a harp-lover’s) dream. The cream of the crop of today’s players are well-represented, and they bring to life the “Blues For Big Walter!” Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.