Sunday, July 01, 2012

Big Time Sarah and the Blues Women of Chicago

Big Time Sarah (Streeter) with her band, the BTS Express, has a new album, Blues In The Year One-D-One (Delmark), which should appeal to straight ahead Chicago blues fans. A shouter who strongly suggests Koko Taylor, although not quite on the level of Chicago’s blues Queen, Big Time Sarah succeeds on this entertaining set with the range of material she handles, including some nice remakes of Hound Dog (given a fresh arrangement), Ain’t Nobody’s Business, Steal Away, Chicken Heads and Down Home Blues. On the latter number, her keyboard player, Tony Llorens, opens with some classical sounding piano which Sarah interrupts saying she doesn’t want to hear that, she wants to hear the downhome blues.

Among the remakes is her first recording, Long Tall Daddy that she made years ago with Sunnyland Slim on piano (and I believe Magic Slim on guitar). The guitarist on this session, Emery Williams passed away while the album was being readied for release, and is featured on Bouncin’ and Breakin’, an instrumental takeoff on B.B. King’s Woke Up This Morning, which Sarah capably performs. The wide range of material is engagingly performed, and while Big Time Sarah may not be at the top echelon of blues singers, she has more than capably succeeded with this solid session.

A recent Delmark album that I missed reviewing when it was released is Women of Blue Chicago which brings together some recordings by Big Time Sarah, Karen Carroll and Bonnie Lee along with tasty performances by Lynne Jordan, Shirley Johnson and Katherine Davis. Lynne Jordan casts a wide net with little Willie John’s R&B rocker, I’m Shakin’, along with a vaudeville blues classic that Ruth Brown has revived, If I Can’t Sell It, while Shirley Johnson is backed by Johnny Moore on a tasty As the Years Go Passing By, and It Hurts Me Too (with Moore adding nice slide). This collection can be safely recommended.

The above review appeared in the October 1996 Jazz & Blues Report (Issue 215) and I likely received review copies from Delmark. Here is a DVD of a more recent performance of Big Time Sarah.

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