Tribute to Carey Bell
Guitarist and vocalist Lurrie Bell is joined by his siblings Steve on harmonica, Tyson on bass and James on drums and vocals on a tribute recording to their late father, legendary harmonica wizard, Carey Bell. Also present on most of this is Eddie Taylor Jr., whose father had a long association with the elderly Bell. Guests on several tracks are Charlie Musselwhite on harmonica, Billy Branch on harmonica and vocals and Sumito 'Ariyo' Ariyoshi on piano. Included are a number of songs associated with Carey, one original from James Bell and one from Billy Branch.
This is one of the better recent blues tribute recordings I have heard as the Bell Dynasty is a real fine band and the sharing of vocals between Lurrie (7), James (3) and Billy Branch (2), adds variety along with the solid vocals. One has to be impressed by Lurrie who opens on a rocking shuffle, Muddy Waters "Gone on Main Street" with Steve displaying his strong harmonica chops while Lurrie tosses in a neat solo. A rollicking take on Little Walter's "I Got To Go," has Musselwhite and Steve Bell both playing with their interplay energizing but Lurrie and Taylor also play to great effect. James Bell shows himself to be a singer of considerable merit on a fine slow original "Keep Your Eyes on the Prize." It is followed by a hot shuffle performance of "Tomorrow Night," while it is Billy Branch I believe who is heard on chromatic harp (with Steve Bell also playing) as well as taking the vocal on another fine slow blues, "So Hard To Be Alone." Branch's own "Carey Bell Was A Friend Of Mine," set to a John Lee Hooker boogie groove showcases the interplay between the two harpists along with Branch's heartfelt singing and lyrics.
James Bell's singing also stands out on terrific performances of "What My Momma Told Me" and "Break It Up," which is given a fresh arrangement from the more familiar versions by Bell and the late Bobby Parker, who had this as a staple of his performances for decades. Among the remaining songs is another superb slow blues "Heartaches and Pain," but the level of these performances is consistently high. In summary, a tribute to Carey Bell full of first-rate Chicago blues.
I received my review copy from Delmark. This review has appeared in the July-August 2018 Jazz & Blues Report (Issue 379). Here is a video of Lurrie Bell and Carey Bell from 2005.