Sunday, February 03, 2013

Nap Turner Singing the Blues At Cafe Vez

I do miss Nap Turner. The following review appeared in the May 2002 DC Blues Calendar, the newsletter of The DC Blues Society I edited for almost 20 years. I received my review copy from Wayne Kahn who runs Right on Rhythm and still champions the DC music scene.

DC area music lovers should be grateful for Wayne Kahn’s enterprise in going out and making location recordings of local blues, jazz, and roots performers for his Right on Rhythm label and other labels (The new Nighthawks album on Ruf is taken from Wayne’s recordings of the group). 

The latest Right on Rhythm release is the second by Nap “Don’t Forget the Blues” Turner, Live at Cafe Vez. Backed by Gary Jenkins Quartet which features the saxophone of Arnold Sterling, this disc captures Nap doing a trio of Percy Mayfield numbers, some blues standards and ballads, two recitations from Langston Hughes’ Best of Simple and a closing blues medley with DC’s blues diva Mary Jefferson. This duet is also the first issued recording by her. It certainly is a nice showcase for Nap who puts his heart into his vocals as the Jenkins band swings behind him. 
Nap Turner & Mary Jefferson at Bluebird Blues Festival. Photo © Ron Weinstock
There are a couple places where he has intonation problems, but overall he sings strongly and persuasively in the uptown blues vein. Kudos to organist Joe Kaplowitz (superb whether comping behind Nap’s vocals and the other soloists, or soloing himself) and guitarist Rick Hanna in addition to saxophonist Sterling (who particularly outstanding on an uptempo adaptation of T-Bone Walker’s Stormy Monday).

Leader Jenkins drumming keeps the swinging groove. In addition to the bawdy duet with Mary Jefferson on If You See Kay/Meet Me With Your Black Drawers On, highpoints include Curtis Lewis’ Deadly Nightshade (The Great City) and a lesser known Percy Mayfield tune, Country (nice Rick Hanna guitar solo here). The Simple recitations might not be for everyone’s tastes, but anyone familiar to Nap know how central it is to his performances, whether live or on the radio. Kudos to Right on Rhythm for another wonderful disc documenting a true treasure of the DC music scene. 

No comments: