Saturday, May 21, 2011

Deacon John Jumps the Blues Again

2011-0501 New Orleans JazzFest Day 3-1220117 by NoVARon
2011-0501 New Orleans JazzFest Day 3-1220117, a photo by NoVARon on Flickr.

From the first time I had the pleasure of hearing Deacon John Moore on a WWOZ compilation ripping through a terrific rendition of Elmore James'  Happy Home, I have been a fan of this New Orleans Rhythm and Blues Legend. Then the entire JazzFest set was made available on CD which showcased his ability to take classics from Elmore, J.B. Lenoir, B.B. King and Jimmy Rogers his own. After that came the release of Deacon John's Jump Blues, an album of classic rhythm and blues with Deacon John and others turning in a spectacular performance of songs associated with Ray Charles, Erma Franklin, The Spiders, Smiley Lewis, Johnny Adams and Joe Liggins with superb Big Band Arrangements by the Creole Beethoven, Wardell Querzergue. Tricia Boutté joined him for a Shirley & Lee Medley as well as handing Aretha's baby sister's Piece of My Heart. On the latter tune Allen Toussaint gusted on piano, while Henry Butler pounded the 88s behind Jumpin' in the Morning, an early Ray Charles classic and Dr. John was on piano for Joe Liggins' Goin' Back to New Orleans. In addition to this great recording, there was also a concert DVD of a concert of these artists and these songs. Since then, Deacon John is a must see for me at JazzFest if he is performing while I am there.

Sunday, July 1, Deacon John was featured on the Gentilly Stage, where he led his revue for a hour of super music with some surprises but also displayed his range as a performer. His Big Band included not only his brother Charles on bass guitar, but a sister on percussion and his daughter joining in on vocals. While I would not be unsympathetic with Deacon John playing slide guitar for an hour, the mix of music here included features for his backing singers as well as classic rhythm and blues and soul, his renditions of some standards and, an unexpected delight, a terrific rendition of a Steely Dan number. Then there were strong renditions of songs from Deacon John's Jump Blues and other songs of the genre (a rendition of Joe Liggins' "The Honey Dripper"), before he took out the slide and launched into "Happy Home" and followed with some modern urban blues. 

It was a well-paced set that displayed just how good and diverse a performer he is. I wish he could have played for at least another half hour. Deacon John is special to these eyes and ears. Here is a link to a documentary on him on Snag Films.

No comments: