Let Your Hair Down!
Veteran Chicago guitarist and vocalist Floyd McDaniel’s musical career spans decades and he turns 80 next July. Alabama born, he moved to Chicago when he was 15 and has been playing professionally since the 1930’s, including some time spent in New York. He was a member of the Four Blazers, spent time with the Ink Spots, met Charlie Christian after Christian joined Benny Goodman and learned from T-Bone Walker, who had been part of a dance act with his wife’s sister. In the past few years he recorded overseas. Now Delmark has issued a wonderful new McDaniel album of jump blues, sung and played with rare authenticity.
While a couple of songs date back from his days with the Four Blazers (including the peppy opening Raggedy Ride), he handles a range of material including versions of a number of songs associated with T-Bone Walker - Blue Mood (by Jessie Mae Robinson and erroneously credited to Walker), the ballad, I Want a Little Girl (also associated with Jimmy Rushing and Count Basie), West Side Baby, and T-Bone Shuffle (here called Let Your Hair Down). The Jimmy Rushing-Count Basie classic Sent For You Yesterday is revisited as is Roy Milton’s R.M. Blues. Other high points include renditions of the Billie Holiday classic, God Bless the Child, the swing band staple, Christopher Columbus, Louis Jordan’s Caldonia, and W.C. Handy’s St. Louis Blues.
McDaniel’s guitar is straight out of the T-Bone Walker bag, while his vocals are suggestive of the late Cousin Joe. The Blues Swingers are an eight piece little big band with rhythm, three saxophonists and trumpet. While this is McDaniel’s show, tossing in his T-Bone Walker styled solos and his relaxed, heartfelt vocals, it is the whole group that rocks the groove on an album of ripping jump blues.
This review originally appeared in the February 1995 Jazz & Blues Report (Issue 198) and I likely received a review copy from Delmark Records. Here is Floyd from the 1995 Chicago Blues Festival.