Thursday, December 22, 2011

Lluis Coloma's Boogie Woogie and Blues Portraits

Spanish pianist Lluís Coloma is representative of a worldwide group of pianists devoted to the classic boogie woogie and blues form. His most recent album on Swing Alley, Blues Portraits is comprised of a solo performance along with eleven duets with blues and boogie woogie pianists from around the world. The other pianists (some of whom I am familiar with) include August Tharrats, Mitch Woods, Carl Sonny Leyland, Julien Brunetaud, Bob Seeley, David Giorcelli, Mark ‘Mr. B” Braun, Frank Muschelle, Barrelhouse Chuck (Goring), Philippe LeJeune and Bernat Font.

He opens with his own, lively Coloma’s Boogie. Coloma is then joined on a range of traditional or classic blues and boogies along with a few idiomatic originals. Coloma is on the left speaker throughout. It allows the listener to discern the different in approaches such as Tharrats who sounds a bit honky tonk on the gospel Just a Closer Walk With Thee, while Mitch Woods takes us to New Orleans on Red Beans, adding an affable vocal.

Carl Sonny Leyland's opening bar on C C Rider, evoked Amos Milburn as the two provide a nicely crafted underplayed blues here, while Julien Brunetaud has an appealing vocal on I’ve Got to Learn to Do the Mambo, with crisp lead playing along with his strong left hand, while Swanee River Boogie, dates back at least to Albert Ammons and Fats Domino prior to the furious duet by the two that Albert Ammons and Pete Johnson would be proud of.

David Giorcelli takes lead on the classic piano blues theme 44 Blues, with a rub-board adding rhythmic accents, although the tempo smooths out some of the intriguing twists and turns that Sykes and Little Brother Montgomery provided when playing this. The spirit of Meade Lux Lewis is suggested on the duet between Coloma and Frank Muschelle on the furious Honky Tonk Blues Bar Boogie, while Barrelhouse Chuck conjures up Sunnyland Slim on his terrific reworking of Floyd Jones’ “Schooldays on My Mind,” whereas Philippe LeJeune adds a bit of sophistication on Ray Bryant’s I’ll Stick With It, whose melody is quite similar to Johnny Copeland’s Cut Off My Right Arm.

This is a first-rate album of performances that illustrates the wide number of excellent blues players out there that will be mostly unfamiliar to most. Coloma himself is a superb player who also is quite willing to allow the others to shine here. Piano players do play together, and quite well as shown here.

This review was written for Jazz & Blues Report, but I do not believe it was ever published. I received a review copy from a publicist for this release. His website is  Here is some videos of him performing.

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