A guided tour of the blues
Sam Donnelley | Seattle, WA USA | 09/12/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is one of the buried treasures of jazz recordings. Branford Marsalis leads his top-flight group (Kenny Kirkland - piano, Robert Hurst - bass, Jeff 'Tain' Watts - Drums) through a century of blues history. They dig deep into every style from call-and-response field chants (Berta, Berta - from August Wilson's transcendant play "The Piano Lesson") through the blues-n'-boogie of John Lee Hooker, all the way up to postbop free-jazz. The lineup of guest stars and featured soloists is amazing, including BB King, John Lee Hooker, Russell Malone, Wynton Marsalis and Linda Hopkins. Branford is in control of it all throughout, and really displays some spectacular chops as well as brilliant taste. The way his quote of Charlie Parker's "Parker's Mood" blends seamlessly into BB Kings quintessential blues stylings is pure heaven. If you want to introduce a friend to the amazing scope and breadth of jazz, this might be the perfect album for such a task. 5-stars, and then some. As an added bonus, the liner notes by Delfeayo Marsalis are some of the best I have ever encountered."
laumol | the Netherlands | 07/12/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The album seems to be a blueprint for Branford's Buckshot LeFonque-project, because it covers many different aspect of jazz. The album features blues (with help from B.B.King and John Lee Hooker), 'Dance of the Hei Gui' is a Thelonious Monk-tribute, 'Brother Trying to Catch a Cab (On the East Side) Blues' is a Marsalis-jazz-track and 'Berta, Berta' features the chanting and moaning of railroadworkers (slaves) taking you right to the core of American music history. The versatility of this album can only be found on both Buckshot LeFonque albums, so if you like this (and you don't really, really hate hip-hop music) be sure to check them out."
Swing King | Cincinnati, OH USA | 04/28/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This album won a 1992 Grammy Award for Best Jazz Instrumental Performance, a jazzy blues album with musical guests and the late Kenny Kirkland (p), Jeff "Tain" Watts (d), Robert Hurst (b), B.B. King (on "B.B.'s Blues"), John Lee Hooker (on "Mabel"), Linda Hopkins and brother Wynton Marsalis (t), among others. I was surprised this album has only two reviews, as I consider this one of Branford's more satisfying recordings to date. On "B.B.'s Blues", B.B. King really wails away far into the song with some clever guitar work. On "Mabel", John Lee Hooker helps out on guitar and sings some down home blues.
As goes with any recording I have heard him on, the late Kenny Kirkland shines through here with his penetrating rhythmic piano backgrounds and solos. Bob Hurst provides some very nice throbbing and attacking beats on bass for the tracks, and Branford wails away on saxophone with ingenious phrasing that melds naturally into every selection. "The Road You Choose" features Linda Hopkins, with soulful gospel styled singing to an upbeat tempo. This album won itself that 1992 Grammy Award because it offers great sound from top-quality performers.
Branford Marsalis (tenor, soprano & alto sax)
Jeff "Tain" Watts (drums)
Kenny Kirkland (piano)
Russel Malone (guitar, track 3 only)
Reginald Veal (bass, track 3 only)
Herlin "Homey" Riley (drums, track 3 only)
B.B. King (vocals & guitar, track 2 only)
John Lee Hooker (vocals & guitar, track 4 only)
Wynton Marsalis (trumpet, track 5 only)
Delfeayo Marsalis (trombone, track 9 only)
Linda Hopkins (vocals, track 9 only)
Joe Louis Walker (guitars, track 9 only)
Earl Gardner (trumpet, track 9 only)
T-Blade (rhythm guitar, track 9 only)
Bernard Purdie (drums, track 9 only)