Friday, June 10, 2011

Celebrating the great blues piano of Floyd Dixon

It must have been quite a night at Phoenix’s The Rhythm Room, June 1 and 2, 2006, when they recorded three of the then greatest living blues pianists, Henry Gray, Pinetop Perkins and Floyd Dixon, with Dixon dying a few days after this summit meeting. The resulting CD has just been issued, Time Brings About a Change … , A Floyd Dixon Celebration (Highjohn) and is a very nice musical celebration that is perhaps a bit bittersweet knowing that Dixon would not be able to enjoy the resulting acclaim.

A solid backing band led by Kid Ramos is joined by Kim Wilson for the performances by Gray and Pinetop and the horns, especially trumpeter Joe Banks, gets space for Dixon’s performances. Ramos kicks things with a hot tribute to Albert Collins, Don’t Lose Your Cool which is followed by Johnny Tucker handling the vocal on Do You Wanna Dance. Gray is heard on a nice instrumental, Henry’s House Rocker, Sweet Home Chicago and Dust My Broom, while Pinetop performs his own Down in Mississippi as well as Walter Davis’ Come Back Baby and Ivory Joe Hunter’s Since I Lost My Baby. Both Gray and Pinetop are in typical form but these are hardly earth shattering performances of unfamiliar material.

The bulk of this album is given to Dixon with a few of his classics including Hole in The Wall, Call Operator 210, Rita and the title track mixed with solid renditions of Cold Cold Feeling, I’m Gonna Move to the Outskirts of Town and Caledonia. Ramos adds some lovely T-Bone Walker-ish guitar for Cold Cold Feeling, where Banks adds some bluesy brass on several tracks while Dixon rocks as well as takes us down in the alley. Those familiar with Dixon’s fine Alligator album will undoubtedly enjoy this fine last performances from a major figure in the post-war R&B world.

I likely received a review copy from the record label. This review appeared originally in slightly different form in the December 2006-January 2007 DC Blues Calendar, newsletter of the DC Blues Society. It is still available.

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