His album, originally released in 1980, perfectly captures both the searing electric and raw acoustic blues stylings of the legendary John Hammond. His close-to-the-bone vocals, masterful fingerstyle and slide guitar, and piercing harmonica keep the flame alive on this collection of blues roots classics by Willie Dixon, Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf and Robert Johnson.
This CD is most notable for featuring ten of trumpeter Tom Harrell's compositions. Few of the melodies from the harmonically advanced originals will stick in one's mind after one or two listens, but the solos are excellent (and in Harrell's case, often exquisite) and the generally melancholy moods of the advanced hard bop pieces are memorable in their own way. In addition to Harrell, Joe Lovano is in fine form on tenor, soprano and alto, Cheryl Pyle's two guest appearances on flute are a bonus and the rhythm section is supportive and alert with pianist Danilo Perez emerging as a major soloist, taking the title cut as a lyrical free improvisation duet with Harrell. An intriguing and thought-provoking session.
In 2002, Ace released Big Joe Louis & His Blues Kings/The Stars in the Sky, which contained two albums – Big Joe Louis & His Blues Kings (1989, originally released on Blue Horizon) and The Stars in the Sky (1992, originally on Tramp) – by Big Joe Louis & His Blues Kings on one compact disc.
These elements [i.e. a rather zany sense of homour and an oblique, Monk-like compositional sense, which often makes use of folk and popular elements in a highly original way] are in place again on Out Of The Tradition. Walrath opens "Out Of This World" with a strange North African scale and non-tempered sounds blown on a detached trumpet mouthpiece. There are hints of Coltrane's version in what follows, but they are used as stepping stones, not as a final destination. Walrath has located his playing outside the tradition and is constantly working towards points of departure. That is dramatized in Mingus's "So Long, Eric," on which Coryell and Green play a large part, and it comes across in the cod Bach of "Wake Up And Wash It Off," a pun too complicated to merit unpicking here. Walrath's now regular Pops feature comes on "Cabin In The Sky," one of his best recent performances, and he then drops back into gentler mode for "I'm Getting Sentimental Over You." It's done no harm to doff the cap-and-bells for a while; this is a terrific jazz album.
This is a UK four CD repackaging of this excellent box set. Over a single weekend in June 1967, Monterey entered history as the very first rock festival. The paucity of official releases over the intervening years led to Monterey–like the Rolling Stones' Rock & Roll Circus–becoming as much a figment of rock & roll myth as hard fact. Finally though, in 1994, the British company Castle Communications put together this beautifully assembled 4 CD box set. Unfortunately, some acts (Simon & Garfunkel, Grateful Dead)–perhaps feeling their performances were below-par–refused to license their material. But with over four hours of music, this set still presents a vivid snapshot of the event. For once, the packaging is as important as the music: a booklet is bound in, complete with memorabilia, previously unpublished photos, and first-hand reminiscences from performers like David Crosby, Dennis Hopper, Steve Miller, Eric Burdon and John Phillips.