Friday, October 08, 2010

Floyd McDaniel's Jazzy "West Side Baby"

The late guitarist and vocalist, Floyd McDaniel, was born in the south but grew up in Chicago where he attended high school with Nat Cole and Ray Nance. A performance at Chicago’s 1933 World Fair led to his career in music playing jazz, blues and pop for 15 years as part of the Four Blazers and later played with one of the versions of the Ink Spots. An appearance at the Chicago Blues Festival and some coaxing from Willie Dixon got Floyd to start playing his mix of jazz and blues leading to a well received album on Delmark in 1994 but before he could record a follow up, he passed away on August 22, 1995. Fortunately a recording was made of an 1994 German Festival appearance where he was backed by Dave Spector and the Bluebirds and Delmark issued it in 1997 and Delmark has just re-released it, “West Side Baby.”

The album certainly illustrates what Delmark labels his “whiskey-smooth vocals and Charlie Christian/T-Bone Walker influenced guitar work.” Spector’s own playing is a sympathetic second and complimentary guitar voice to McDaniel’s. This is an amiable collection of a number of well known tunes such as “St. Louis Blues,” where McDaniel provides a fresh take instrumentally during his solo with nice use of chords. Not many people can introduce a song associated with Nat King Cole by noting he went to school with Cole as he does introducing “Route 66.” One does not hear the Parish/White classic “Evenin’” performed that often these days, and this 15-odd year old performance is a fine one, followed by a nice treatment of “Red Top,” where his playing suggests the late Robert Lockwood. The performance segues into a vocal take of “Meet Me With Your Black Drawers On.” McDaniel’s rendition of “Backwater Blues,” gives an idea of how it would have sounded if T-Bone Walker had recorded the Bessie Smith classic. More T-Bone Walker styled blues can be heard on Jesse Mae Robinson’s “Every Time.” Even an unrehearsed, impromptu “Sweet Home Chicago” has it charms on this delightful CD that we can thank Delmark for making available again.

For purposes of FTC regulations, the review copy of this was provided by Delmark records.

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