Kenny “Blues Boss” Wayne — “Blues From Chicago to Paris” — Stony Plain Records
If you love piano blues (I’ll admit to my own crush), here’s a new album from an old piano master that should satisfy any craving you might have.
Wayne has been one of the premier boogie-woogie practitioners for years — he’s 77 and still tormenting the ivories here with considerable pleasure.
For this set, however, Wayne decided to focus more on some standard blues. Or as he put it:
“Many of my friends, around the world, have told me that they miss the sound of piano blues and this album will feature just that….”
These tracks are focused on the late 1950s and early ’60s, specifically on the music created when the great blues singer-songwriter Willie Dixon joined with piano great Memphis Slim (Peter Chatman) on a world tour. Thus the title, “Blues from Chicago to Paris.”
Wayne explains: “Memphis Slim and Willie Dixon were a team, and their styles worked great together.” “Out of many other blues piano players I’ve listened to, I found a unique playfulness between these two men, unlike the many other great blues pianists.” This inspiration was based on Dixon’s early years when he was Willie Dixon and the Big Three Trio.
The result is the 17 songs on this smartly conceived and enthusiastically executed album by Wayne and players he calls his “two buddies,” Russell Jackson on acoustic bass and Joey DiMarco on drums.
Yes, there’s some tasty boogie woogie here (“Rock and Rolling This House,” “Just You and I”), but Wayne’s piano work is mostly more subtly attuned to the flavor of the songs he’s chosen, and the result is sensual and bluesy (“Messin’ With the Blues,” “Got You On My Mind,” “Pigalle Love,” “Stewball”).
Every song is a minor gem of blues piano work, with Wayne’s husky vocals (Jackson adds some, too) adding depth and well-aged smokiness.
The is a fine and fun album by one of remaining giants of blues piano. Goes down smooth late at night with the proper adult beverage. Enjoy it soon and often.
“Stewball” from the album:
Tracklist and credits:
1, Rock and Rolling This House, Peter Chatman, Memphis Slim Music
2, The Way She Loves A Man, Willie Dixon, Helios Music Company
3, New Way To Love, Willie Dixon, Hoochie Coochie Music
4, Reno Blues, Willie Dixon
5, African Hunch, Willie Dixon, Helios Music Company
6, Just You and I, Willie Dixon, Helios Music Company
7, Messin’ Round (With The Blues), Peter Chatman, Conrad Music
8, One More Time, Willie Dixon, Hoochie Coochie Music
9, Somebody Tell That Woman, Willie Dixon, Hoochie Coochie Music
10, Stewball, Peter Chatman, Arc Music
11, After While, Willie Dixon, Hoochie Coochie Music
12, Got You On My Mind, Willie Dixon, Hoochie Coochie Music
13, Don’t Let The Music Die, Willie Dixon, Hoochie Coochie Music
14, Pigalle Love, Peter Chatman, Sony / ATV Songs LLC
15, I Aint Gonna Be No Monkey Man, Willie Dixon/Leonard Caston, Hoochie Coochie Music
16, I Got A Razor, Willie Dixon, Hoochie Coochie Music
17. Wish Me Well, Peter Chatman, Memphis Slim Music
Kenny Blues Boss Wayne – Piano/Vocals
Russell Jackson – Acoustic Bass/Vocals
Joey DiMarco – Drums
Producer – Kenny Wayne
Engineers – Adam Wittke & Peter Kilgour
Liner Notes – Bill Dahl (Yes, I know you can’t read them here, but the man writes great liner notes.)