Sunday, July 22, 2007

Blues Boss Strong Boogie Woogie Disc

Here is a two year old review of a wonderful disc by a fine musician and gentleman, Kenny "Blues Boss" Wayne. This disc won the 2006 Juno Award, the Canadian equivalent of the Grammy Award

A few years ago I was sent a cd by a West Coast pianist, Kenny "Blues Boss" Wayne which was a superb disc of hot R&B and jump blues in the vein of such legends as Amos Milburn, Floyd Dixon and Little Willie Littlefield. Subsequently he has started to tour at top festivals and clubs and the Canadian Electro-Fi label has issued Let It Loose, his second disc for the label and I believe fourth overall. The cd opens with a hard rocking Blackberry Wine, yet another tune of many derived musically from Amos Milburn's Chicken Shack Boogie. Milburn is clearly the main influence on Wayne who plays strong jump boogie piano that would have served Milburn proud. Joogie to the Boogie is a nice easy rocking number with some strong tenor from Pat Carey. A trio of songs, Bewildered, Let Me Go Home Whiskey, Memphis Slim's Blue and Lonesome, are a mini-tribute to Milburn who was one of the top selling R&B acts between 1948 and 1953. A more modern tone and a funk groove mark the slow reflective Wishing Well, while the title track is a high-stepping number that should prove irresistible for the swing dancers with its quick but not frenzied tempo. A more contemporary feel also characterizes the closing, Blues Carry Me Home, which is perhaps not as striking as some of the other numbers. Russell Jackson on bass anchors a solid rhythm section that never rushes the tempo and Brandon Isaak plays solid idiomatic guitar to complement Wayne. Wayne also contributed most of the songs here, and his songwriting is like his piano and vocals, first-rate. With all the albums that are supposedly extending the blues, its nice to find a disc whose playing and vocals is rooted in some undeservedly forgotten giants of the music that makes for a generally terrific recording.

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