Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Jimmy Burns It Ain't Right

The new Jimmy Burns recording, "It Ain't Right" (Delmark Records),  is his fifth album for the label dating back to 1997. He has not exactly been over-recorded, so a new release by him  should be welcome. The younger brother of Detroit blues legend, Eddie Burns, Jimmy has an extensive vocal group and soul background, although he also has deep Mississippi rooted blues roots as was displayed on his album "Leaving Here Walking" Jimmy is backed by his working band Anthony Palmer, guitar; Greg McDaniel, bass: Bryant "T" Parker, drums; with support from Sumito "Ariyo" Ariyoshi, piano; Roosevelt Purifoy, organ; and a full horn section. With the exception of two originals from Billy Flynn, the album is comprised mostly of covers including a couple of Percy Mayfield songs and one by his late brother, Eddie. Dick Shurman produced this recording in February of 2015.

The opening track by Flynn, "Big Money Problem" is a track that evokes some of the best Mississippi rooted performances from Burns' prior recordings and is followed by Flynn's lovely R&B ballad "Will I Ever Find Somebody?" showing off his soulful singing with a notable piano solos and effective horns. The backing to "Snaggletooth Mule," a nice hoodoo blues, may sound familiar to Johnny Copeland fans.  On a rendition of Percy Mayfield's "Long As You're Mine," the horn riffs lend an unwelcome frenzied sense to the performance. The treatment of Mayfield's "My Heart Is Hangin' Heavy," is more straightforward and, to these ears, more satisfactory. There is a solid rendition of The 5 Royales "Crazy, Crazy, Crazy," a performance that harkens back to his vocal group days.

Eddie Burns' "Hard Hearted Woman" is a crisp, easy rocking shuffle, and Jimmy plays nice down-home harmonica on a fresh reworking of Jimmy Reed's "A String To Your Heart," with a nice loping groove. Also heard is surprising, enjoyable cover of Goree Carter's "Rock Awhile," if a bit laid back compared to Carter's jump blues original. A cover "Stand By Me" has a nice vocal and some nifty guitar, but otherwise did not leave much of an impression. "Surrounded" is a nicely paced shuffle with a terrific baritone sax solo from Aaron Getsug and nice guitar break. Burns places his own stamp on Little Walter's "It Ain't Right," with rollicking piano and a clever guitar line in the accompaniment, while a fresh funk arrangement enlivens his interpretation of the Junior Wells classic, "Messin' With the Kid."

The album closes with a Burns leading a gospel quartet styled rendition of "Wade in the Water," with a nice lead vocal. Jimmy Burns "It Ain't Right," displays his considerable talents over a variety of blues, R&B and gospel. Perhaps it has a couple of musical miscues, but overall this is a welcome addition to his very distinctive body of recordings.

I received my review copy from Delmark. Here is Jimmy performing "Leaving Here Walking."

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