Friday, August 24, 2012

Luther Tucker's Sad Hours

Luther Tucker is an unsung hero of the blues who has been gone a long-time. The following review of Tucker’s Antone’s label release Sad Hours, appeared in the April 1994 Jazz & Blues Report (Issue 190). I likely received a review copy from the label. This album is still in print and is also available as a download.

The late Luther Tucker was best known for his work on Chess sessions by Little Walter and Sonny Boy Williamson II, and was a member of what was perhaps James Cotton’s best band in the late sixties. A resident of the San Francisco Bay area since 1973, Tucker made few recordings as a leader.

A dazzling guitarist, he mixes a slashing West Side Chicago attack with a jazzy sensibility, reflecting the influence of Robert Lockwood’s chordally based style. His jazz sensibilities is evident on the instrumental, Canadian Sunset. Not known as a vocalist, he comes across as more than engaging. The highpoint is an inspired West Side Chicago style treatment of Five Long Years, using the melody of Otis Rush’s Double Trouble. Tribute to Elmore is a kinetic non-slide instrumental derived from Bobby’s Rock.

A few songs are funk and while a couple are not realized, the singing and playing against the James Brown groove on War Boy is first-rate. The tight backing band is outstanding and horn charts fresh. Kim Wilson adds harp on a few tracks. This is a surprisingly impressive recording, which even with flaws provides a strong memorial to a departed master.

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