Professor Longhair review…April 27, 2018….

PROFESSOR LONGHAIR

LIVE IN CHICAGO

ORLEANS RECORDS   ORL 2915

INTRO–DOIN IT–BIG CHIEF–EVERY DAY I HAVE THE BLUES–MESS AROUND–MARDI GRAS IN NEW ORLEANS–GOT MY MOJO WORKING–FESS’S BOOGIE

If there was a picture accompanying the definition of “laissez les bon temps roulet!,” it would simply HAVE to be one of Professor Longhair.  Born Henry Roeland Byrd, “Fess,” as he was known to millions of us fans, took the piano to places it had never been before.  He combined, mambo, rhumba, jazz, and blues into a cool gumbo that served him well not only in the early days of post-WWII jazz and blues, but again after the resurgence of the folk movement in the late Sixties, up thru his untimely passing in 1980.

Orleans Records has just released “Live In Chicago,” recorded at the University Of Chicago Folk Festival on February 1, 1976.  Backing the “Fess on these seven exquisite New Orleans shuffles, we have Will Harvey on rhythm guitar, Julius Farmer on bass, Earl Gordon on drums, and Billy Gregory on lead guitar.  Billy was “Fess’ guitar player from 1974, and he had the tape of this set broadcast on WFMT-FM.  Both Carlo Ditta and Billy worked diligently to restore this session to their satisfaction, and this performance has everybody clicking thru a fine list of originals and standards.  “Doin’ It” leads off, an instrumental with a definite jazz flair, and ‘Fess shouts out to “Billy’ just before he breaks off one dazzling solo after another.  “Big Chief” finds the ‘Fess “feelin’ good,” and “gonna dance ’til morning comes!”  “Every Day I Have The Blues” begins as a loping “See See Rider,” before taking off properly, and has Billy on a wah-wah-ish guitar.  They give a big shout-out to Brother Ray with “everybody doin’ the Mess Around,” and the set closes with another rhumba-rockin’ instrumental original, “Fess’s Boogie.”

Our favorite was another New Orleans classic that many listeners will identify with Antoine “Fats” Domino.  The ‘Fess rocks that second-line groove, complete with the whistling of the first verse, on a swingin’ trip down to “the old Auditorium to see the Zulu Queen,” “Mardi Gras In New Orleans.”

Fans, there has never been a performer quite like ‘Fess, and his recorded legacy shows he was the epitome’ of the good times of The Big Easy, and “Live In Chicago” further solidifies him as one of the most electric and exciting performers of our lifetime.  To Billy and Carlo we offer a huge thank you, on behalf of ourselves and blues fans all over the world,  for your painstaking work in restoring this historic recording.  Peace and love…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

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