Monday, July 16, 2007
Chick Willis' Albert King Tribute
Its been close to forty years since this writer acquired a 45 by one Chick Willis that included a solid rendition of Guitar Slim’s The Things I Used to Do. Shortly thereafter, Chick recorded another single that would generate his career defining song, Stoop Down Baby. Such a song can be a blessing and a curse because it does provide work but it is also an albatross that prevents folks from appreciating just how good and varied a blues performer he is as opposed to be limited to bawdy double entendre numbers. Jacques ‘Saxman’ Johnson and Dr. Bill Clark had Chick come in to the Washington, D.C. area for a gig at Blues Alley as well as a recording session. The result is the new Old School Productions CD, Cookin’ the Blues: A Tribute to Albert King featuring Chick Willis. As the album title suggests, Chick is heard on a number of songs associated with the late blues giant including Can’t You See What You Are Doing to Me, I’ll Play the Blues For You, Angel of Mercy, Laundromat Blues, and What the Blues is All About. Willis sings and plays his distinctive guitar in a straightforward fashion and Johnson leads a punchy and brassy horn section supporting Willis’ fine performances. Four of the ten tracks are instrumentals that give the Saxman a chance to stretch out including a rousing rendition of The Hucklebuck, with Bill Clark getting some space to show his Hammond B-3 skills and Johnson’s son, Jacques Jr. being featured quite admirably on guitar. In summary, Cookin’ the Blues is delightful with solid Willis interpretations of classic Albert King recordings with the Saxman’s tenor sax features for an added treat. For information on how to order contact Old School Records at Jacques Johnson’s website www.jacquessaxmanjohnson.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org. A website that carries some of the Old School Records and hopefully will have this one is www.rightonrhythm.com. It is also available at cdbaby.com.