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I started a quest to find terrific blues music and incredible musicianship when I was just a little kid. I also have a tremendous appreciation of fine musical instruments and equipment. One of my greatest joys all of my life was sharing my finds with my friends. I'm now publishing my journey. I hope that you come along!

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Showing posts with label Guy King. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Guy King. Show all posts

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Delmark artist: Guy King - Truth - New release review

I just received the newest release, Truth, from Guy King and it's exciting! Opening with Ray Charles' The Same Thing That Can Make You Laugh (Can Make You Cry) and it's a roller coaster ride of light funky jazz with excellent vocal from Guy King who is a terrific guitar player throwing down Albert King like riffs and continuously punched by a dynamic horn section of Marques Carroll on trumpet, Christopher Neal on tenor sax, Brent Griffin Jr. on bari sax and carried on the shoulders of Amr Marcin Fahmy on keys, Jake Vinsel on bass and George Fludas on drums. King really digs in on guitar, making this track sing and Sarah Marie Young, Kiara Shakleford and Jihan Murray-Smith add nice backing vocals for a really powerful sound. Title track, Truth, takes a more mellow track with cool Latin rhythms. Raspy, neck gripping guitar soloing contrasting against light Brazilian jazz like backing vocals makes for a very enjoyable ride. Stepping more into a 50's club style on My Happiness, King shares the lead vocal with Young and with light drums and horn punctuation, this track should easily get a lot of airplay. Fluid jazzy guitar runs will make you sit back in your seat and smile as King just fingers along. Very nice! Johnny Guitar Watson's, It's About The Dollar Bill, retains 99% of JGW's original funky groove and with punchy horns and the sassy cross talk, hits the road running. King definitely has his own guitar style but the influence of JGW is definitely there and this track is a great addition to the mix. Slow blues number, A Day In The Life With The Blues, demonstrates very clearly that King is a super vocalist, delivering excellent phrases that rival his guitar riffs... and that really is saying something. Percy Mayfield's Cookin' In Style, with it's walking bass line has a definite strut. Fahmy takes a real nice Rhodes solo and Fludas' hi hat work is tight. Carroll steps up with a clean trumpet solo inviting King to take a long walk and he's doesn't balk at the invite. Blending rock and jazz styles with a blues factor makes for a real nice match with horn punctuation. Very cool! Steve Cropper's See Saw has a definite R&B feel with high stepping drive and BB King influenced guitar riffs and horns and backing vocals riding high. Ray Charles', Hey Now, has a great strut with the horns setting stage. King really does show his strength again on vocal with this "big band" style backing and giving his the chance to really rip his guitar solos out of a more mellow backing. Deep throaty guitar riffs really set them apart and the high runs at times make your necks hairs stand on end. Excellent! On classic jazz number, I Gotta Right To Sing The Blues, the band really plays swing time and King sets right back in the groove with a blues approach to a still jazz attack. This is really appealing taking it to the next level. Doc Pomus and Dr John penned, There Must Be A Better World Somewhere, has the real feel of Dr John and the vocal style is all King, but definitely BB King influenced. This is a really styling track with warm sax embrace. King delivers the goods again on this track and the release continues to build a solid continuity that is rarely found on any release. Shuffle track, King Thing, is built around a simple low fret riff with key dressing and simple drums. The horns start to pop in with punctual essence and King really just makes the guitar sing. This track is smoking! Really!! BB King's Bad Case Of Love has an almost Freddie King feel with it's twist rock beat. Griffin Jr. steps up with a really solid bari sax solo blowing the doors off and King returns to trade riffs, joined by Young, Shackleford and Murray-Smith giving this track a hot sixties blues sound. Percy Mayfield's, Something's Wrong, gets the straight soul treatment with almost SRV style guitar riffs providing excellent contrast to an otherwise somber track. Albert King's, If The Washing Don't Get You (The Rinsing Will), actually has fresh riffs with a lot more roundness than sting. There is still definitely Albert's influence, but it is certainly not a Albert redo. This is a solid blues track with great riffs. Wrapping the release is a pop soul track, One Hundred Ways with a light jazzy base. George Benson comes to mind when I try to describe the guitar style. This is a really solid release with only a few very minor weaknesses (which I can rarely say). Check this out of you can take a stroll on the jazzy side of blues. It's absolutely worth it!

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Sunday, February 24, 2013

Willie Kent featuring Guy King

Listen to the music: when he sings, Willie Kent’s voice blazes out from the heart of the blues. Below the singing, you hear his bass guitar, flawless and rich. Between these two runs the music, a deep, honest blues that flowed from rural Mississippi to urban Chicago and remembers everything it learned along the way. Willie Kent was born in 1936 in the small town of Inverness, Mississippi, just a hundred miles south of the border with Tennessee, and the blues ran all through his childhood. His first experience singing came in church, where he went "all the time" with his mother and brother. "Blues and gospel come from the same place," he would say later in life. "They're both from the heart." But the blues always called to him. Dewitt Munson, a neighbor wending homeward late nights with a guitar in his hand and a bottle in his pocket, would stop a while at the Kent porch to rest, letting the young Willie hold his guitar while he told stories. Through radio station KFFA’s famous "King Biscuit Time", Willie basked in the sounds of Arthur Crudup, Sonny Boy Williamson, and especially Robert Nighthawk. By the time he was eleven, he was regularly slipping out to the Harlem Inn on Highway 61 to hear it all live: Raymond Hill, Jackie Brenston, Howlin’ Wolf, Clayton Love, Ike Turner, Little Milton. He left home at the age of thirteen. In 1952 he arrived in Chicago, where he soon was working all day and listening to music all night. One of his co-workers was cousin to Elmore James - and Willie Kent (still underage) took to following that famous bluesman from club to club, absorbing his music. Each weekend he’d go out looking for blues, and he found it: Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, J.B. Lenoir, Johnnie Jones, Eddie "Playboy" Taylor, A.C. Reed, J.B. Hutto, and Earring George Mayweather. His love for the music led him further and further into it. He bought himself a guitar, and in 1959 through guitarist friend Willie Hudson, linked up with the band Ralph and the Red Tops, acting as driver and manager and sometimes joining them onstage to sing. He made a deal with Hudson, letting him use the new guitar in trade for lessons on how to play it. One night’s show was decisive: the band’s bass player arrived too drunk to play, and because the band had already spent the club’s deposit, they couldn’t back out of the gig; so Willie Kent made his debut as a bass player, on the spot. He never looked back. From that point on, his credits as a musician read like a "Who’s Who" of Chicago blues. After the Red Tops, he played bass with several bands around the city and stopped in often for Kansas City Red’s reknowned "Blue Monday" parties. He was increasingly serious about his music and formed a group with guitarists Joe Harper and Joe Spells and singer Little Wolf. By 1961, he was playing bass behind Little Walter, and by the mid-60’s was sitting in with Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, and Junior Parker. Toward the end of the 60’s, he joined Arthur Stallworth and the Chicago Playboys as their bass player, worked briefly with Hip Linkchain, then played bass behind Jimmy Dawkins. He joined Jimmy Dawkins on his 1971 European tour, but when they returned to the States, their paths diverged: Dawkins wanted to keep touring and turned over his regular gig at Ma Bea’s Lounge to Willie Kent, who wanted to stay in Chicago. For the next six years, the Ma Bea’s house band was known as Sugar Bear and the Beehives, headed by Willie Kent (the Sugar Bear himself) with guitarist Willie James Lyons and drummer Robert Plunkett. In that setting, he set the tone of the club and backed up a stellar guest list including Fenton Robinson, Hubert Sumlin, Eddie Clearwater, Jimmy Johnson, Carey Bell, Buster Benton, Johnny Littlejohn, Casey Jones, Bob Fender, Mighty Joe Young, B.B. Jones, and Jerry Wells. (For a taste of the music, check out the superb 1975 recording Ghetto – Willie Kent and Willie James Lyons live at Ma Bea’s.) Willie Kent had played occasionally with Eddie Taylor’s blues band during the late 70’s, and in 1982 became a regular member of the band, which then included Eddie Taylor on guitar, Willie Kent on bass, Johnny B. Moore on guitar, and Larry and Tim Taylor on drums. His relationship with Eddie Taylor was both a solid friendship and a warm musical partnership (evidenced in Eddie Taylor’s fine recording Bad Boy on Wolf Records). After the death of Eddie Taylor, Willie Kent devoted his energies to his own band, Willie Kent and the Gents, with Kent on bass and vocals, Tim Taylor on drums, and Jesse Williams and Johnny B. Moore on guitar. And the Gents endured. Over the years, the composition of the group shifted as musicians joined or moved on, but the music remained as clear, powerful and steady as the bass line that held it true: a pure Chicago West Side blues. By the end of his life, Willie Kent was well-known and respected in the blues world, but getting there wasn’t easy. In 1989, a series of heart problems led to life-changing triple bypass surgery. As he healed, he spent time reflecting on blues music, his career, and the future. He gave up his day job and turned his full attention to music. His discography bears witness: before 1989, there were just two recordings to his credit; in the years since, he had ten releases under his own name, recorded behind many other blues artists, and appeared in countless blues compilations. He always thought his singing should get more recognition than it did; but his bass playing earned him many honors.

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