Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Super Black Blues Was True Super Session

As the review in Blues Unlimited noted about the original vinyl release of SuperBlack Blues, the recording of Otis Spann, Big Joe Turner and T-Bone Walker was a true super session that lived up to this label. Recorded in October 1969 and released on (Bob Thiele’s) BluesTime label in 1969-1970, it has finally appeared on compact disc on BMG France.

There are three long tracks on which Turner, Walker and Spann (on two tracks) each take some of the vocal spotlight with a little bit of kidding between Turner and Walker, and one ballad, Here I am Broken Hearted, which is sung by Turner. In between the vocals, Walker, Spann, tenor saxophonist Ernie Watts and George "Harmonica" Smith take solos, all of which are nicely delivered and lack the self-indulgent mediocrity found on many more highly publicized supersessions.

Despite the informal feel of these performances, this album is a gem with a wonderful rhythm section of guitarist Arthur Wright, bassist Ron Brown and drummer Paul Humphrey that push the groove while still swinging. Its hard to believe that Spann was dead half a year after this was recorded as his playing and vocals here sound so vital while everybody else is also at the top of the game. As Joe Turner sings on the aptly titled Blues Jam, it was a lovely party and everybody had a ball and that good time comes across with great vitality nearly three and a half decades later.

This review appeared in the September 2003 DC Blues Calendar, then the DC Blues Society’s newsletter. There was a second volume with Leon Thomas and Eddie 'Cleanhead' Vinson and Leon Thomas replacing Spann and Smith, which I have not listened to, but it would be a completely different feel than the mix of down home blues and uptown blues on the earlier album. Unfortunately this may be hard to find as a CD or vinyl album, but it is worth the search, and hopefully it will get reissued again. Jams this good are rare.

1 comment:

protocoll said...

I recall this being a great sessiion when I heard when it was first released.I only hope I still think so when I hear it again.