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Showing posts with label James Booker. Show all posts
Showing posts with label James Booker. Show all posts

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Rounder Records artist: James Booker - Classified (Remixed and Expanded) - New Release Review

I just received the new release (October 15, 2013) from James Booker and it's a total dictionary on New Orleans piano. Opening with title track, Classified, Booker hammers out a rhythmic chant on the piano clearing the path for the real authentic New Orleans vocal melody. On regional soul track If You're Lonely, Booker really shines on vocals and plays with church like accuracy on piano. Alvin "Red" Tyler is outstanding on sax on this track. On previously unreleased classically structured track Warsaw Concerto, Booker shows another side of his feel for the piano. Really interesting. Back to the bar room with Lawdy Miss Clawdy falls right into the heart of Bookers strength and this Lloyd Price track is a gem. On bayou/latino medley, Tico Tico/ Papa Was A Rascal/So Swell When You're Well Booker rattles the keys in traditional New Orleans style with compliments from Tyler. One of my favorites is a cool rendition of All Around The World (Grits Ain't Groceries) which is a full out piano romp with cool vocals. Down to a more serious side is a complex interpretation of Angel Eyes. This is beautifully arranged and executed. Tyler leads the way on another unreleased track, Lonely Avenue. You love sax, you'll love this track! Next is a tribute to Professor Longhair including Tipitina and Bald Head. Blending classical and new Orleans styles, this is a super track. Another unreleased track, I'm Not Sayin', has a 40's jazz style and is really soulful and bluesy. Excellent! Hound Dog has a loose jangly sound. It's raw and ragged sound is cool and authentic. Allen Toussaint's All These Things is performed with a quiet pace clocked perfectly by Johnny Vidacovich on drums. Another classically arranged track, Madame X is nicely paced and performed showing just how versatile Booker's musical interests vary. Another fun track, Fat's Domino's One For The Highway, has the swing and grit of Dr John with Bookers own piano style and with the addition of Tyler on sax and James Singleton on bass. The release wraps with traditional track Amen with it's gospel swing but containing it's self to basis of a singular piano and vocal. This is an interesting recording from many facets especially for me being exposed to not only the familiar NO style but also the classical style arrangements and feeling.

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Friday, August 16, 2013

James Booker's 'Classified: Remixed & Expanded' on Rounder is glimpse of New Orleans piano legend's career





 JAMES BOOKER’S CLASSIFIED: REMIXED AND EXPANDED PROVIDES DEFINITIVE GLIMPSE OF NEW ORLEANS PIANO LEGEND’S LATER CAREER
Package, available as CD and double-LP vinyl on Rounder Records on October 15, coincides with festival screenings of Lily Keber’s film                                 Bayou Maharajah: The Tragic Genius of James Booker


NEW ORLEANS, La. — The Bayou Maharajah. The Piano Pope. The Ivory Emperor. The Bronze Liberace. Music Magnifico. Gonzo. The Piano Prince of New Orleans. James Booker coined more than a few extravagant nicknames for himself, and he lived up to every one of them.
James Carroll Booker III was also an unheralded genius of American music, a New Orleans pianist whose dizzying technique and mastery of the keyboard was matched only by his imagination and his soulfulness. His short and often flamboyant life was also marked by struggle and lost opportunity. 
Classified, recorded in October, 1982, was one of only two studio albums released during his lifetime, and this remixed and expanded edition offers a poignant and often surprising look at his music, for if James Booker is often cited in the piano lineage that passes from Jelly Roll Morton to Professor Longhair to his own student, Harry Connick Jr., New Orleans tradition was only his jumping-off point.
On October 15, 2013, Rounder Records will release James Booker’s Classified: Remixed and Expanded. The expanded volume’s 22 tracks, which include nine never-before-released performances, range from the pure rhythm and blues of “All Around the World,” to the light classical “Madame X,” to his astonishing version of the jazz standard “Angel Eyes.” Among the unreleased songs is the slow blues instrumental, “I’m Not Sayin’,” and his syncopated reading of Nino Rota’s  “Theme From the Godfather.” Whether playing solo or accompanied by saxophonist Alvin “Red” Tyler, bassist James Singleton and drummer Johnny Vidacovich, Booker ties together a giddy array of musical influences with virtuosity and an often quirky sense of humor. If New Orleans was the only place that could have produced such a talent and such a character as James Booker, the scope of his musical vision was boundless, and he stands alone in the New Orleans piano pantheon.
All Music Guide cites the original edition of Classified as arguably Booker’s best album (even if that mythical collection may still reside in the live recordings his passionate fans have traded over the years). Three decades later, with the new material and dramatically improved sonics, it stands as a lynchpin in his discography.
Included are new notes by co-producer Scott Billington and several new photographs. Classified will be released both on CD and as a limited edition double-LP vinyl set. Lily Keber’s film, Bayou Maharajah: The Tragic Genius of James Booker, has been playing to rave reviews, and that interest in James Booker is expanding beyond his devoted cult following.
According to Grammy Award-winning pianist George Winston, “James Booker and Professor Longhair and Dr. John are the three biggest influences and inspirations for the New Orleans piano renaissance that is happening more and more, and James’s music is even more influential now than when he was alive. He is my biggest overall piano influence and has been since I first heard his recordings in 1982. It’s so great to have everything here from his final studio sessions.”  
Track Listing:

1.  Classified 
2.  If You're Lonely  
3.  Warsaw Concerto*  2:47
4.  Lawdy Miss Clawdy (solo piano alternate take)* 
5.  Medley: Tico Tico /  Papa Was a Rascal / So Swell When You're Well* 
6.  All Around the World  
7.  Angel Eyes  
8.  Lonely Avenue*  
9.  Professor Longhair Medley: Tipitina / Bald Head  
10. King of the Road  
11. Theme from The Godfather*  
12. Lawdy Miss Clawdy  
13. I'm Not Sayin'* 
14. Hound Dog  
15. All These Things*  
16. Yes Sir, That's My Baby*  
17. Baby Face  
18. If You're Lonely (solo piano alternate take)* 
19. Madame X 
20. One For the Highway  
21. Three Keys  
22. Amen 
*previously unreleased 

Monday, December 17, 2012

Papa Was A Rascal - James Booker

James Carroll Booker III (December 17, 1939 – November 8, 1983) was a New Orleans rhythm and blues musician born in New Orleans, Louisiana, United States. Booker's unique style combined rhythm and blues with jazz standards. Booker was the son and grandson of Baptist ministers, both of whom played the piano. He spent most of his childhood on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, where his father pastored a church. Booker received a saxophone as a gift from his mother, but he demonstrated a stronger interest in the keyboard. He first played organ in his father's churches. After returning to New Orleans in his early adolescence, Booker attended the Xavier Academy Preparatory School. He learned some elements of his keyboard style from Tuts Washington and Edward Frank. Booker was highly skilled in classical music and played Bach and Chopin, among other composers. He also mastered and memorized solos by Erroll Garner, and Liberace. His thorough background in piano literature may have enabled his original and virtuosic interpretations of jazz and other popular music. These performances combined elements of stride, blues, gospel and Latin piano styles. Booker made his recording debut in 1954 on the Imperial label, with "Doin' the Hambone" and "Thinkin' 'Bout My Baby." This led to some session work with Fats Domino, Smiley Lewis, and Lloyd Price. In 1958, Arthur Rubinstein gave a concert in New Orleans. Afterwards, eighteen-year-old Booker was introduced to the concert pianist and played several tunes for him. Rubinstein was astonished, saying "I could never play that... never at that tempo." (The Times-Picayune, 1958) Booker also became known for his flamboyant personality amongst his peers. After recording a few other singles, he enrolled as an undergraduate in Southern University's music department. In 1960, Booker's "Gonzo" reached number 43 on the U.S. Billboard chart, and number 3 on the R&B chart. This was followed by some moderately successful singles. In the 1960s, he turned to drugs, and in 1970 served a brief sentence in Angola Prison for possession. Professor Longhair and Ray Charles were among his important influences. In 1973 Booker recorded The Lost Paramount Tapes at Paramount Studios in Hollywood, California with members of the Dr. John band which included John Boudreaux on drums, Jessie Hill on percussion, Alvin Robinson on guitar and vocals, Richard "Didymus" Washington on percussion, David Lastie on sax and Dave Johnson on bass. This album was produced by the former Dr. John and Sweathog bassist, David L. Johnson and Daniel J. Moore. The master tapes disappeared from the Paramount Recording Studios library, but a copy of some of the mixes made near the time of the recordings was discovered in 1992, which resulted in a CD release. Booker's performance at the 1975 New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival earned him a recording contract with Island Records. His album with Island, Junco Partner, was produced by Joe Boyd, who had previously recorded Booker on sessions for the Muldaurs' records. During 1976, Booker played and toured with the Jerry Garcia Band. Booker recorded a number of albums while touring Europe in 1977, including New Orleans Piano Wizard: Live!, which was recorded at his performance in the 'Boogie Woogie and Ragtime Piano Contest' in Zurich, Switzerland This album won the Grand Prix du Disque. He played at the Nice and Montreux Jazz Festivals in 1978. Fourteen years later a recording in Leipzig from this tour would become the last record to be produced in the former East Germany. It was entitled Let's Make A Better World!. From 1977 to 1982 he was the house pianist at the Maple Leaf Bar in the Carrollton neighborhood of uptown New Orleans. Recordings during this time made by John Parsons were released as Spider on the Keys and Resurrection of the Bayou Maharajah. His last commercial audio recording, Classified, was made in 1982 — in four hours according to the producer, Scott Billington. By this time, his physical and mental condition had deteriorated. At the end of October, 1983, film-maker Jim Gabour captured Booker's final concert performance. The footage from the Maple Leaf Bar in New Orleans was broadcast on Cox Cable and a six-and-a-half-minute improvisation, "Seagram's Jam," featured on Gabour's film - All Alone with the Blues. Booker died ten days later, on November 8, 1983, while seated in a wheelchair, waiting to be seen at the emergency room at New Orleans Charity Hospital. The cause of death was renal failure. (Orleans Parish Coroner's Death Certificate). His death was mourned by music lovers, but was unsurprising to those who were aware of his lifelong history of serious drug abuse and chronic alcoholism. Harry Connick Jr., a student and close friend of Booker, is probably his most renowned disciple. Connick, Henry Butler, and Dr. John, among others, have recorded songs with titles and musical styles referencing Booker. Transcriptions by Joshua Paxton of Booker's playing are available in "The James Booker Collection" and "New Orleans Piano Legends", both published by The Hal Leonard Corporation. Patchwork: A Tribute to James Booker is a 2003 release consisting of a compilation of his songs performed by various pianists. The latest Booker album, released in June 2007, is Manchester '77, which consists of a live performance recorded in October 1977 at The Lake Hotel, Belle Vue, Manchester with Norman Beaker on guitar. It has been speculated that his song "Gonzo" was the inspiration for the use of the word gonzo to describe Hunter S. Thompson's journalistic style.[citation needed] A feature-length documentary entitled "Bayou Maharajah" is currently being produced by Lily Keber on the life of James Booker. “Like” Bman’s Facebook page. 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Friday, December 16, 2011

Classified - James Booker


James Carroll Booker III (December 17, 1939 - November 8, 1983) was a jazz, New Orleans rhythm and blues and soul musician born in New Orleans, Louisiana, United States.
Booker was the son and grandson of Baptist ministers, both of whom played the piano. He spent most of his childhood on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, where his father pastored a church. Booker received a saxophone as a gift from his mother, but he demonstrated a stronger interest in the keyboard. He first played organ in his father's churches.

After returning to New Orleans in his early adolescence, Booker attended the Xavier Academy Preparatory School. He learned some elements of his keyboard style from Tuts Washington and Edward Frank. Booker was highly skilled in classical music and played Bach and Chopin, among other composers. He also mastered and memorized solos by Erroll Garner, and Liberace. His thorough background in piano literature may have enabled his original and virtuosic interpretations of jazz and other American popular music. These performances combined elements of stride, blues, gospel and Latin piano styles.

Booker made his recording debut in 1954 on the Imperial label, with "Doin' the Hambone" and "Thinkin' 'Bout My Baby." This led to some session work with Fats Domino, Smiley Lewis, and Lloyd Price.

In 1958, Arthur Rubinstein gave a concert in New Orleans. Afterwards, eighteen-year-old Booker was introduced to the concert pianist and played several tunes for him. Rubinstein was astonished, saying "I could never play that... never at that tempo." (The Times-Picayune, 1958) A gay man, Booker also became known for his flamboyant personality amongst his peers.

After recording a few other singles, he enrolled as an undergraduate in Southern University's music department. In 1960, Booker's "Gonzo" reached number 43 on the U.S. Billboard chart, and number 3 on the R&B chart. This was followed by some moderately successful singles. In the 1960s, he turned to drugs, and in 1970 served a brief sentence in Angola Prison for possession.

Professor Longhair and Ray Charles were among his important influences.

In 1973 Booker recorded The Lost Paramount Tapes at Paramount Studios in Hollywood, California with members of the Dr. John band which included John Boudreaux on drums, Jessie Hill on percussion, Alvin Robinson on guitar and vocals, Richard "Didymus" Washington on percussion, David Lastie on sax and Dave Johnson on bass. This album was produced by the former Dr. John and Sweathog bassist, David L. Johnson and Daniel J. Moore. The master tapes disappeared from the Paramount Recording Studios library, but a copy of some of the mixes made near the time of the recordings was discovered in 1992, which resulted in a CD release.

Booker's performance at the 1975 New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival earned him a recording contract with Island Records. His album with Island, Junco Partner, was produced by Joe Boyd, who had previously recorded Booker on sessions for the Muldaurs' records. During 1976, Booker played and toured with the Jerry Garcia Band.

Booker recorded a number of albums while touring Europe in 1977, including New Orleans Piano Wizard: Live!, which was recorded at his performance in the 'Boogie Woogie and Ragtime Piano Contest' in Zurich, Switzerland This album won the Grand Prix du Disque. He played at the Nice and Montreux Jazz Festivals in 1978. Fourteen years later a recording in Leipzig from this tour would become the last record to be produced in the former East Germany. It was entitled Let's Make A Better World!.

From 1977 to 1982 he was the house pianist at the Maple Leaf Bar in the Carrollton neighborhood of uptown New Orleans. Recordings during this time made by John Parsons were released as Spider on the Keys and Resurrection of the Bayou Maharajah.

His last commercial audio recording, Classified, was made in 1982 — in four hours according to the producer, Scott Billington. However in the 1980s his physical and mental condition deteriorated.

At the end of October, 1983, film-maker Jim Gabour captured Booker's final concert performance. The footage from the Maple Leaf Bar in New Orleans was broadcast on Cox Cable and a six-and-a-half-minute improvisation, "Seagram's Jam," featured on Gabour's film - All Alone with the Blues.

Booker died ten days later, on November 8, 1983, while seated in a wheelchair, waiting to be seen at the emergency room at New Orleans Charity Hospital. The cause of death was renal failure. (Orleans Parish Coroner's Death Certificate). His death was mourned by music lovers, but was unsurprising to those who were aware of his life-long history of serious drug abuse and chronic alcoholism.
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