Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Kenny "Blues Boss" Wayne Lets It Loose

A few years ago I was sent a CD by West Coast pianist Kenny ‘Blues Boss’ Wayne, that was a superb disc of hot R&B and jump blues in the vein of such legends as Amos Milburn, Floyd Dixon and Little Willie Littlefield. Subsequently he has started to play top festivals and clubs, and the Canadian Electro-Fi label since issued Let It Loose, Waynes second disc for that label.

Let it Loose opens with a hard rocking Blackberry Wine, a tune musically derived from Milburn’s Chicken Shack Boogie. Milburn is clearly a major influence on Wayne, who plays strong jump boogie piano that would have served Milburn well in his heyday. Joogie to the Boogie is an easy rocking number with strong tenor sax from Pat Carey. A trio of songs, Bewildered; Let Me Go Home Whiskey; and Memphis Slim’s Blue and Lonesome, provide a mini-tribute to MIlburn, one of the top-selling R&B acts between 1948 and 1953.

A more modern and a funk groove mark the slow, reflective Wishing Well, while the title track is a high-stepping tune that should prove irresistible to swing dancers with its quick, but not frenzied, tempo. A more contemporary feel also characterizes the closing Carry Me Home, which is perhaps not as striking as some of the other songs here.

Russell Jackson on bass anchors a solid rhythm section that never rushes the tempo and Brandon Issak plays solid idiomatic guitar to complement Wayne. Wayne also contributed most of the songs here and his songwriting is first-rate. With all the albums that are supposedly extending the blues, its nice to find a terrific recording that is rooted in some undeservedly forgotten giants of the blues.

The above review appeared in the June 2005 DC Blues Calendar, the newsletter of the DC Blues Society that I edited from 1988 to 2007. I have made a few minor stylistic changes from the original review, but the tenor remains the same. I have resurrected the review in light of the upcoming new Stony Plain release by him, An Old Rock On a Roll that I will be posting a review of in a few days.

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