Tuesday, December 08, 2015

Mississippi Heat - Hattiesburg Blues

Delmark has just released the latest recording, “Hattiesburg Blues,” by Mississippi Heat. This is the 8th album by the group led by Pierre Lacocque, a fine songwriter and increasingly impressive harmonica player. The group is fronted by Inetta Visor, whose unforced soulful singing is becoming more accomplished. Guitarist Giles Corey, keyboard whiz Chris Cameron, bassist Spurling Banks and drummer Kenny Smith are the band’s core, with Stephen Howard and Dujuan Austin filling in for Banks and Smith for certain tracks. One cannot stress just how good the rhythm section is and certainly come off as good as any rhythm section in the blues today. Lurrie Bell and Carl Weathersby both make guest appearances with the Chicago Horns led by Kenny Anderson also appearing on several tracks.

The strength of the Mississippi Heat has always been fine original material, strong ensemble playing and strong solo playing. The opening track, ‘Tiger Man,’ is not the same song as Rufus Thomas’ Sun recording, but rather Inetta Visor’s joyful celebration of her man’s love-making prowess and Lacocque’s marvelous harp featured throughout. It is followed by Lurrie Bell’s declaration of ‘Chicago Is My Home,’ delivered marvelously with typically fine guitar while his other vocal on the rocking Gone So Long,’ sports a marvelous solo from Lacocque along with his marvelous rocking accompaniment of Bell’s vocal. Cameron adds some rollicking piano to this.

One of the few covers here is of Denise LaSalle’s ‘Soft-Hearted Woman’, with fine guitar from Weathersby with Visor showing her interpretative skills. The Chicago Horns along with percussionist Ruben Alvarez add a Afro-Cuban feel to ‘How Much Worse Can It Be?,’ and the title track with its musical allusion to ‘Hernando’s Hideaway.’ Its really nice to hear how Lacocque blends in his harp seamlessly with the band and horn riffs. Weathersby is typically impressive on the slow blues “Light From Within,’ along with ‘Hell and Back,’ on which he handles the vocal 'Calypso in Blue,’ is a lovely instrumental with Giles Corey ably handling the guitar solo here with impressive chromatic harp from the leader.

What else can one say. Mississippi Heat is rooted in the entire scope of the post-World War II Chicago blues tradition and the terrific “Hattiesburg Blues”is another addition to their marvelous body of recordings.

I received a review copy from Delmark Records and this review appeared in the June 2008 issue of Jazz & Blues Report (Issue 305) and downloadable at jazz-blues.com. Here Mississippi heat perform "Hattiesburg Blues."

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