Blues and Boogie Vol. 1
This latest album from Kim Wilson finds him in somewhat of what some might describe as a retro-blues vein. Recorded at a number of sessions, it was mostly recorded and mixed by guitarist Nathan James at Sacred Cat Studios, Oceanside, California; except fora couple tracks recorded and mixed by Big Jon Atkinson at Big Tone Recording Studios, Hayward, California. Among those playing the late pianist Barrelhouse Chuck and drummer Ricard Innes. Others heard backing Wilson include Billy Flynn, Atkinson, Marty Dodson, James, Larry Taylor, and Malachi Johnson.
This consists mostly of songs that Kim states he "always wanted to do. However, I have to put my own twist on everything.” The focus on the his is Chicago blues and the harmonica masters such as Little Walter, Sonny Boy Williamson and 'especially' James Cotton to whom this recording is dedicated to. Even Wilson penned originals like the opening harmonica romp "Bonus Boogie," are styled in the manner of Little Walter instrumentals. Then there are solid interpretations of songs previously recorded by Elmore James ("No Love in My Heart", "Sho Nuff I Do"), Little Walter ("Teenage Beat", "Blue and Lonesome" and "Mean Old Frisco"), Sonny Boy Williamson ("Ninety Nine"), Little Milton (Same Old Blues"), and Jimmy Rogers "(You're the One") with solid backing in the style of the fifties and sixties originals. The recording of the songs adds to this retro-blues flavor.
Wilson has always been a terrific harmonica player as well as a natural, assured vocalist and the performances here certainly showcase his considerable talents along with the tight, idiomatic backing. Kim has recorded several similar albums previously and this is certainly one that fans will appreciate, although it would hard to call this very entertaining set, primarily of covers, essential.
I received from my review copy from a publicist. This review originally appeared in the November-December 2017 Jazz & Blues Report (Issue 375), although I made a few edits to correct typos and clarify some points. Here is Kim Wilson performing with Kirk Fletcher and the late Barrelhouse Chuck.