Roosevelt Sykes – The Original Honeydripper
Recorded live at the Blind Pig in Ann Arbor, Michigan and released on LP soon after, this is the first reissue of The Original Honeydripper. The sound quality has been improved by the removal of some distracting audience chatter, and two original outtakes, St. James Infirmary and Don't Talk Me to Death, have been marvelously resurrected. The selections here span the length and breadth of Roosevelt Sykes' career and the times in which he lived. Opening with Cow Cow Blues, Sykes gives his personal interpretation of Cow Cow Davenport's trail-blazing 1928 boogie woogie composition, recalling his own early years. St. James Infirmary, from the pre-blues folk tradition, is a number that may have entered Sykes' repertoire from his many years in New Orleans where the song has long remained in circulation. Honeysuckle Rose and The Viper Song, two popular numbers from the catalog of the great Fats Waller, are given brief but spirited treatment.
Sykes' frequent exhortations of "Mercy!" and "My, my, my!" throughout the set demonstrate his own pleasure in his performance. A jaunty take of the jazz standard Please Don't Talk About Me When I'm Gone suggests the influence of stride in his musical arsenal. Sykes also contributes a brief version of Ray Charles' groundbreaking What'd I Say from 1959-reciprocation perhaps, as Ray famously covered his Night Time is the Right Time. Of the seven of Sykes' own compositions on this recording, Drivin' Wheel, a bona fide classic of the blues, is enthusiastically received by this young audience more than forty years after it was first recorded. The moderately tempoed Early Morning Blues exhibits chiming echoes of old-time music halls in his keyboard work, whereas Running the Boogie is a showcase piece for his elegant boogie technique, complete with clever stop time tempo changes. Sykes' lighter side is represented by a sampling of his more humorous compositions such as, I Like What You Did, I'm a Nut, Too Smart Too Soon, and Don't Talk Me to Death. And one of his most notorious titles, the thinly veiled, Dirty Mother For You, finishes out the set to boisterous applause.
At the close, Roosevelt Sykes graciously thanks the audience and says he has enjoyed entertaining them. But more than mere entertainment, he has subtly given them-and now us-a brief retrospective of his career and of the many influences on his piano style, showing why The Honeydripper was considered by many to be the father of modern blues piano. My, my my! Oh, indeed, Mercy!
1. Cow Cow Blues - 3:40 2. Drivin' Wheel - 2:50 3. What I Say - 2:15 4. Viper's Drag - 1:55 5. Early Morning Blues - 3:15 6. Dirty Mother for You - 4:10 7. I'm a Nut - 2:00 8. Running the Boogie - 2:20 9. Honeysuckle Rose - 2:00 10. Too Smart Too Soon - 3:35 11. Sweet Home Chicago - 2:40 12. I Like What You Did - 2:05 13. Please Don't Talk About Me - 2:00
Roosevelt Sykes (vocals, piano)
1. AllMusic - Eugene Chadbourne
This label can really be counted on to do a fine job on documenting an artist. For a recording of this artist in his later years, one can't really do better than this set, which captures Sykes live on stage in a club, alone at the piano, as he usually was during this stage of his career. By then he was way beyond worrying about dancers like in the old days and was becoming more and more expansive on the keyboard, certainly bringing to mind Fats Waller and Art Tatum. And beyond that, listeners at that time who had heard even more modern pianists were convinced that Sykes was getting into their territory, too. Which he probably was, especially when the entry way was a number such as "Honeysuckle Rose" or "Please Don't Talk About Me," a regular set-ender and forum for some of his wildest playing. The tradeoff in a live set such as this, as opposed to Sykes in a studio, was that for an audience; he always trotted out a certain set of hardy favorites, and they are here, but he always reinvented them with the artistry of his piano playing. In the studio he would try to devise some catchy new numbers, and perhaps take one of the old favorites, change it slightly and then rename it. There is a touch of the latter skullduggery here. The solo version of "I'm a Nut," which had served so well as a band vehicle, is very nice to hear, and the Ray Charles cover is also perfect.
2. www.bluesmagazine.nl - Taco Broekman - 2013.11.21
Roosevelt Sykes (1906-1983) groeit op in West Helena, Arkansas, waar hij reeds op jonge leeftijd orgel speelt in de kerk. Hij gebruikt pseudoniemen als The Blues Man, Easy Papa Johnson, Willie Kelly, Dobey Bragg (de meisjesnaam v2013.11.21an zijn moeder) en de naam waarmee hij het bekendst zou worden: The Honeydripper.
In 1929 was hij één van de eerste bluespianisten die opnames maakte! Hij wordt dan ook als de vader van de moderne bluespiano gezien. In de decennia na zijn debuut werd hij niet alleen één van de meest productieve artiesten, maar ook een succesrijke bandleider en een populaire solo-artiest. Aan hem danken we onder andere pareltjes als “The night time is the right time”, “44 Blues” en “Driving Wheel”.
In de kleine blues club in de kelder van Blind Pig Café in Ann Arbor in Michigan werd “The Original Honeydripper” in 1977 live opgenomen. De selectie nummers op de plaat, die origineel op lp verscheen, overspannen Sykes’ zijn hele loopbaan en het tijdperk waarin hij leefde. Kenmerkend voor zijn eigen muzikale mix van ragtime- en country bluespiano, geven deze solo uitvoeringen Sykes weer als een volmaakte entertainer.
Het zal moeilijk zijn betere compilaties te vinden van een opname van een artiest in zijn nadagen dan deze van Roosevelt Sykes op Blind Pig. Daarbij komt dat deze CD de eerste re-issue van de lp is. De geluidskwaliteit is vooral door het onderdrukken van het storende geklets van het publiek erg verbeterd.
Voor de echte (blues) liefhebbers een absolute aanrader.
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