Saturday, June 10, 2017

Bonnie Lee Sweetheart Of The Blues

Bonnie Lee
Sweetheart Of The Blues

Among new Delmark blues releases is Bonnie Lee’s Sweetheart of the Blues. Probably best known for her performances with Willie Kent and the Gents, this album will surprise many as it shows her to be far more a singer than a blues belter.

While those familiar with her will not be surprised by her take on Jimmy Reed’s Baby, What You Want Me To Do, her low-key interpretation of Buddy Johnson’s classic ballad Since I Fell For You is a model of taste and phrasing that showcases another side of her. There is considerable variety in the musical settings, from the straight Chicago blues flavor of Got the Blues ‘Bout My Baby with Billy Branch’s harp, the dance-oriented I Love My Baby, and Ocean of Tears which is suggestive to these ears of a Big Maybelle tune.

In addition to Billy Branch, others appearing on this album include bassist, Willie Kent, guitarist Willie Davis, guitarist Steve Freund (who contributes several choice solos, and even takes one vocal, If You Be My Baby), pianist Ken Saydak, and saxophonist Hank Ford, whose solo on Since I Fell For You is especially tasty. Johnny B. Moore contributes the stinging, snapping guitar behind Bonnie’s unforced vocal on Junior Parker’s Next Time You See Me.

With its variety and Bonnie Lee’s natural soulful singing, Sweetheart of the Blues makes for an impressive American LP debut. 

I likely received a review copy from Delmark Records. This review originally appeared in the October 1995 Jazz & Blues Report (Issue 205). Here she is performing at the 1999 Chicgao Blues Festival.

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