First in my List of Outstanding Jazz and Blues Recordings of 2010. I start with Vintage Blues Recordings which includes not simply reissues but also releases primarily consisting of older material.
Junior Wells & the Aces Live in Boston 1966 (Delmark). The release of a sixties club performance by Junior Wells with the Aces (Louis and Dave Myers as well as drummer Fred Below) captures Wells in top form and displays the manner Wells interacted with his primarily white college audience was not far removed from how he interacted with the folks at Pepper’s Lounge.
Albert King / Stevie Ray Vaughan: In Session (Stax). While the music has been available from the legendary encounter on CD, this combined deluxe DVD and CD includes much unissued video by the two. Tremendous meeting of two legends.
Little Smokey Smothers & Elvin Bishop Chicago Blues Buddies (Brown Derby). Compiled as a fundraiser for Smokey, who recently passed away, I wrote “a solid retrospective of a wonderful partnership with the release of the first-rate 1993 Chicago Blues Festival performances particularly welcome as are the tracks that Alligator and Black Magic graciously lent to this project … .”
Otis Redding Live on the Sunset Strip (Stax) The classic live recordings which include the full sets of a legendary performance. “Over four decades later, Otis Redding’s music remains as gripping as when he performed on the Whiskey’s stage. Obviously those having the earlier reissues may not need this, but others who love “Sweet Soul Music,” will want this.”
Luther Allison Songs From the Road (Ruf) CD and DVD of previously unissued performances by one of the greatest live blues performers ever. “What a joy to listen and watch previously unissued performances by Luther Allison after all these years. It doesn’t get much better than this release which is quite reasonably priced and should be available from itunes or amazon and better retailers.”
Sista Monica Soul Blues & Ballads (Mo Muscle Records). A terrific retrospective for which I wrote, ‘There is a generous amount of music here with thirteen outstanding performances for about 70 minutes by one of the blues and R&B world’s finest singers here. I add that she could have selected from her earlier recordings, a dozen different performances and had as compelling a recording. She is just that dynamic and soulful. For those lacking anything by the Sista, here is a good place to start.”
Freddie King Texas Flyer (Bear Family). This is the second Bear Family box sets that has also tyhe commercially issued recordings by the legendary blues singer and guitarist. This set also has the live recordings he did for RSO and much previously unissued live performances. Between the two sets on Bear Family (The 7CD Taking Care of Business is the earlier one) one has about 15 hours of guitar blues of the highest level and one can reevaluate some of the stuff that one might have dismissed four decades ago. Special note should be made of the hard cover book with Bill Dahl's biographical and musical notes and pianist Dave Maxwell's recollections of working with King. The book also has some incredible photographs and full discographical information.
Little Willie John Mister Little Willie John + Talk To Me (HooDoo Records) Two early albums by the great rhythm and blues singer who died way too soon with a number of his classic songs including Fever, Talk to Me, Home at Last, All Around the World, and Drive Me Home.
Christine Kittrell, Call Her Name:Complete Recordings 51-65 (Bear Family). Nashville was once known as much for its Rhythm and Blues scene as hillbilly music, and the queen of that scene was Christine Kittrell. Bear Family has compiled all of her recordings from 1951 to 1965 (many produced by legendary songwriter-producer Ted Jarrett) that shows a terrific singer that had some mostly regional success but was the equal of some of her better known contemporaries. On one selection, a John Coltrane rips out a sax solo that stands out.
Big Walter Horton Blues Harmonia Giant (JSP) 3-CD box that reissues this important harmonica masters early recordings for a variety of labels along with some of his choice accompaniments and a bonus CD of a live 70's performance with his primary disciple, Carey Bell. I blogged extensively on this reissue.
Bob Corritore Harmonica Blues (Delta Groove). Harmonica player Bob Corritore has championed traditionally styled Chicago blues for decades. This Delta Groove release showcases his considerable skills on the harmonica with a number of blues legends, a number of whom are no longer with us including Robert Lockwood, Nappy Brown and Koko taylor as well as Eddie Shaw, Louisiana Red, Big Pete Pearson and others. There is enough older material to place this in the Vintage category as opposed to a straight new release.