Monday, September 19, 2011

Champion Jack Dupree's Expatriate Blues

Back three decades ago, Samuel Charters produced a series of blues lps for the Swedish Sonet label, The Legacy of the Blues, along with some other blues recordings. Charters is known as both a blues author (The Country Blues, The Poetry of the Blues, Bluesmen) as well as a producer of blues recordings, including the classic Chicago, The Blues Today! and albums by Junior Wells and Buddy Guy to name a few of the artists he recorded. Universal Music, through its Verve imprint has just issued seven of the seven Sonet lps for reissue in a series, The Sonet Blues Story. Six of these are from The Legacy of the Blues series. This is the second in a series of posts of my reviews from this series that originally appeared in the June 2006 Jazz & Blues Report (Issue 283).

Champion Jack Dupree had been resident in Europe for over a decade (and he would remain there for the rest of his life) when he entered the studio in 1971 to record with English musicians. The New Orleans born pianist and former boxer had first recorded some barrelhouse blues and boogie woogie in a style that pre-dated the modern New Orleans tradition that Professor Longhair launched. Dupree was a strong player with a fertile lyrical mind and the cd opens with an anti-war blues, Vietnam Blues, followed by a diverse group of material from the odd rhythms of Drunk Again to Anything You Want, with its light second-line groove. Dupree mixes spoken lines with his vocal lines with plenty of humor and good spirits as his backing band provides understated backing with occasional guitar solos from one Peter Curtley as Paul Rowan adds some harp. One can hear echoes of Leroy Carr, an influence on most bluesmen growing up when Dupree was growing, up on the wistful slow blues Will It Be, with nice harp adding to the feel, and its followed up by a rollicking groove on You’re the One. Dupree has a fairly extensive discography out and this is an enjoyable addition to it. A very different take of Vietnam Blues, is one of several unissued tracks made available for the first time.

It should be noted that on these Sonet reissues, the playing time is somewhat short, and even those with extra tracks do not exceed 45 minutes. Still there is some really good music to be heard on these and if not essential releases, these are welcome additions to available blues.

This CD may be out-of-print but should available from various sellers and is available as mp3 files. I received my review copy from the publication.

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