Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Jumpin' With Junior Watson

Among the most respected blues and roots guitarists associated with the West Coast swing and jump blues scene is Junior Watson. Bharath Rajakumar and Wally Herson have produced his most recent recording, Jumpin’ With Junior (Royal Regal Records). Watson is joined by long-time collaborator Fred Kaplan on piano and different rhythm sections. This CD was recorded in Montreal and Pasadena. Bharath plays harmonica on 2 of the 8 Montreal selections, while Gordon Beadle adds sax to two of the 7 Pasadena recordings.

There is plenty of attention to tone and atmosphere on the recordings starting with the hot Butter Top. Watson's affection for the Memphis guitar stylings of Floyd Murphy, Willie Johnson and Pat Hare is evident on his twisting lines on Knee High Boogie. Watson is adequate as a vocalist on Floyd Jones’ Stockyard Blues, as Bharath channels Snooky Pryor and Walter Horton. Watson’s playing here on this in an Eddie Taylor vein. No one is going to purchase this for Watson’s singing, but the vocals do provide a change of pace.

Bo-Nanza is an interpretation of the theme of the classic TV show as if it had been recorded by Bo Diddley. Another take on a TV theme songs is Beverly’s Hillbilly, with a reggae groove. These tracks contrast with the late night, jazzy tinge of Velvet Mood. Happy Hoppy is a bouncy salute to Houston steel guitarist Hop Wilson on which Watson playd some taut steel. Dragnet Blues was originally recoded by Johnny Moore’s Blazers with Frankie Ervin soning on a Charles Brown styled performance. Watson’s vocal is pretty effective on a moody performance.

The title track is a hot instrumental with driving single note runs accented by slashing chords. His slide guitar rendition of One Night With You may conjure up Earl Hooker, while There’ll Be a Day (with nice harmonica added) is a nice cover of a lesser known Jimmy Reed number. Mr. Downtime is an atmospheric late night cocktail blues instrumental while Boppish provides an interesting contrast between Watson’s jazz-accented blues style and Beadle’s tenor sax that channels Illinois Jacquet and Wardell Gray on this while on the closing The Barn Burner, Beadle plays more in the honking style of Big Jay McNeely. 

Junior Watson rarely records under his own name and that is enough reason for many to be interested in this. There is plenty of intriguing and imaginative playing throughout that makes for fun listening.

I purchased this although it may be hard to fine. Here is a video of Junior Watson. 

1 comment:

Deb in SF said...

If you're looking for "Jumpin' wit Junior," I know where copies are available. Drop me a private message at deblubin@sbcglobal.net and I'll hook you up. Deb