Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Nappy Brown returns

Its been a decade since Napoleon Brown Goodson Culp, better known as Nappy Brown, last had a new recording out. Thanks to producer Scott Cable, Brown has a terrific new recording available on Blind Pig, Long Time Coming. Helping on this new recording is a terrific band that includes guitarists Bob Margolin, Junior Watson and Sean Costello, keyboardist Jim Pugh, bassist Mookie Brill, saxophonist and harpist John Nemeth, and drummer Big Joe Maher. There is a mix of new versions of some of the songs most associated with Nappy Brown (Don’t Be Angry and The Right Time (which Ray Charles made famous as Night Time is the Right Time) along with a nice selection of material that range from hot jump blues like the opening Keep On Pleasin’ You to the more downhome feel of Walter 'Lightning Bug' Rhodes Aw Shucks Baby, You Were a Long Time Coming and the Little Walter classic Who. Aw Shucks Baby is the one track not from this session as it was from a performance at the Phoenix, Arizona club, The Rhythm Room. Brown's voice sounds like he has lost little over the years, comparing his renditions of Aw Shucks Baby and The Right Time with renditions on a 1991 Ichiban album by him. The new versions benefit from a much crisper band that adds more punch to the proceedings. I know Margolin has performed with Nappy over the years, but special mention must be made of Big Joe Maher’s drumming. Maher anchored the band that backed Nappy Brown in 1991 DC Blues Festival, and besides his own swing based jump blues, has been a sought after drummer for touring acts as diverse as Earl King, Johnny Adams, James ‘Thunderbird’ Davis, and Jimmy ‘T-99’ Nelson. Maher’s playing playing is consistently in the pocket. The foundation of Maher's drums and the electric bass of Mookie Brill is one reason the music here sounds so crisp and vigorous. There is plenty of terrific guitar throughout and Nappy is in real good voice, whether employing a stuttering shouting vocal on Don’t Be Angry, handling a ballad, Give Me Your Love, or singing with faith on the closing, Take Care of Me. One would be hard pressed to find any recording by Nappy as good as this one since his classic Savoy recordings. Highly recommended. For those in the Washington DC area, Nappy Brown appears at the State Theatre in Falls Church, November 2.

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