Monday, April 20, 2020

Giuseppi Logan - 1966 - More

Giuseppi Logan 

01. Mantu (6:11)
02. Shebar (13:18)
03. Curve Eleven (8:42)
04. Wretched Sunday (10:48)

Giuseppi Logan - Alto Saxophone, Bass Clarinet, Flute, Piano
Don Pullen - Piano
Milford Graves - Drums, Percussion
Reggie Johnson - Bass (track01, 02)
Eddie Gomez - Bass (track04)

Recorded 1.5.65 at Town Hall.

This is a historic recording by a rather short-lived ensemble. More is a continuation of the force majeure that began with Quartet (ESP 1007) that was recorded on October 5, 1964. More (ESP 1013) was recorded some months later first on May Day in 1965 and then some later (?) day that same month. This is cause for celebration because like many of Don Pullen and Giuseppi Logan’s early recording it is out of print until now. Born of unbridled improvisation, More. This, (and the recording before it), are historic recordings on a couple of counts. Firstly Giuseppi Logan recorded nothing until The Giuseppi Logan Quintet (Tomkins Square), forty four years later. The two records are also among the first recordings of Don Pullen, who went on to do great things on his own, with a series of groups, including the mighty African-Brazilian Connection and in groups with Beaver Harris (360° Experience), with George Adams and with Charles Mingus.

The record is most appropriately titled. More features more of Giuseppi Logan’s bright, heraldic reeds and woodwinds work. His magnificent tone is in evidence all over the recording and his phrasing is pointed, sometimes even sardonic as well as witty in the handling of themes on the various compositions as well as in the interplay between the musicians. Mr. Logan’s flute playing sometimes feathery, but at other times it contains evidence of sharp dynamics and brilliant articulation, of a similar nature to Eric Dolphy. This is what informs the music on “Mantu,” a shrill and rather spectacularly angular piece. Mr. Logan’s work on saxophone has bite and is hard-hitting. This is true of his handling of the bass clarinet—indeed all of his instrumentation, which is also sometimes aphoristic . Don Pullen and Milford Graves act as superb foils to Mr. Logan. Their reading of the material—on “Shebar,” for instance is drier and incisive—Don Pullen in particular is more expansive and spectacularly transversal.

“Shebar” and “Wretched Saturday” are the longest pieces on the album. They feature the playing of two bassists, with dramatically divergent styles. Yet both Eddie Gomes (who also plays on the earlier Giuseppi Logan recording, Quartet) and Reggie Johnson are eminently suited to the requirements of the charts here. Mr. Johnson in particular is superb in his idiomatic phrasing and accentuation on the almost folk-like melody of “Shebar”. Mr. Gomez is flamboyant on “Wretched Saturday,” playing at opposite ends to Giuseppi Logan, who is almost bright and bronzed, yet seemingly painfully sparse. The distant sound of Mr. Logan on this chart is often opaque sounding, but suits the music’s dynamic extremes and the detailed integrity of Giuseppi Logan’s interpretations. While Don Pullen is fast, skittish and his fisted orientation agogic stresses cast the music throughout with full-bodied and shapely delineation.

Giuseppi Logan Quartet - 1964 - Giuseppi Logan Quartet

Giuseppi Logan Quartet
Giuseppi Logan Quartet

01. Tabla Suite 5:39
02. Dance Of Satan 5:16
03. Dialogue 7:15
04. Taneous 11:47
05. Bleecker Partita 15:24

Bass – Eddie Gomez
Tenor Saxophone, Alto Saxophone, Oboe [Pakistani] – Giuseppi Logan
Drums – Milford Graves
Piano – Don Pullen

Giuseppi Logan, a saxophonist, clarinetist and flutist whose esteemed career in free jazz bracketed a mysterious absence of almost 40 years, died on Friday at the Lawrence Nursing Care Center in Far Rockaway, Queens. He was 84.

Matt Lavelle, a trumpeter and clarinetist who was Logan’s closest musical partner over the last dozen years, said the cause was related to the coronavirus.

Logan leaves behind a small body of recorded work, but his standing in the improvised avant-garde is considerable. He emerged just as free jazz was beginning to crest as a movement, and even amidst a crowded field of iconoclasts, he distinguished himself as an original.

In 1964, shortly after his arrival in New York, he participated in The October Revolution in Jazz, alongside artists like trumpeter Bill Dixon and pianist Cecil Taylor. Several weeks later he recorded The Giuseppi Logan Quartet for ESP-Disk, with impeccable partners: pianist Don Pullen, bassist Eddie Gomez and drummer Milford Graves.

Logan’s second album, More, was recorded live at The Town Hall during a concert of ESP-Disk artists on May 1, 1965. (The same concert yielded saxophonist Albert Ayler’s classic Bells.) His group worked often over the next year or two, notably on a college tour organized by the label; he also appears, playing flute, on College Tour, by the avant-garde vocalist Patty Waters.

In performance, Logan would not only play saxophone and flute but a range of other instruments, with varying degrees of technical facility. Reactions were mixed, with many “New Thing” converts on one end of the spectrum; the other end held a good many detractors, including the bulk of jazz’s critical establishment.

Whitney Balliett, reviewing a performance at Judson Hall for The New Yorker, noted that Logan and his band “had the air of mediums possessed.” That furious intensity wasn’t a turn-on, as Balliett made painfully clear. “Logan’s sheer dexterity masks sly sins,” he wrote, and proceeded to enumerate a few:

His violin work, made up of a million short, scratchy notes, was demonic; his trombone was equally congested; his trumpet playing was high and strangled; his alto and tenor saxophones — he dangled each instrument from his mouth like a cigarette — were a mockery of Ornette Coleman; his Pakistani oboe was a Pakistani oboe; and his vibraphone sounded as if he were pouring loose change into it.

A short film from 1966, by Edward English, shows Logan in his East Village neighborhood with his family. A hand-lettered sign on his door reads “GIUSEPPI LOGAN / Music Teacher / All Instruments / Vocal Coach.” At one point, he is heard in voiceover: “If people in any other profession are able to support their families by doing what they do, I mean, why can’t I?” he says. “Or other musicians that are doing something that’s good for society?”

Logan made one of his only sideman appearances in 1966 on an album by trombonist Roswell Rudd, whom he had met through Graves (like Rudd, a member of the New York Art Quartet). That early Rudd album, Everywhere, consists of just four compositions, one of which is Logan’s “Satan Dance” — a theme introduced, as “Dance of Satan,” on The Giuseppi Logan Quartet.

By the early 1970s, Logan’s struggles with substance abuse and mental illness had removed him from the scene. He is mentioned in a footnote of Valerie Wilmer’s 1977 book As Serious As Your Life: The Story of the New Jazz as “no longer active in music,” and his whereabouts were unknown, even to his family, for the next few decades. In a haunting coincidence, his passing came the same week as that of bassist Henry Grimes, whose story similarly includes a disappearing act, followed by a welcome return.

Joseph Logan was born in Philadelphia on May 22, 1935. (According to Lavelle, he adopted his Italianate first name for effect, possibly at the suggestion of ESP-Disk founder Bernard Stollman.) His first instrument was the piano, which he taught himself; he took up reed instruments at age 12. He studied at the New England Conservatory before moving to New York. That first iteration of his career lasted only about half a dozen years.

According to a sympathetic profile by John Leland in The New York Times, Logan had stretches of institutionalization and homelessness, in Norfolk, Va. and then back in New York. He slept in shelters or on the subway. He played his saxophone for change, often in Tompkins Square Park in the East Village — where Josh Rosenthal, founder of Tompkins Square Records, would often see him playing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” without realizing his pedigree in free music.

Around the same time, Logan wandered into a Sam Ash music store in midtown and encountered Lavelle, who pieced together his identity and quickly became a crucial ally. “He was in a place where he was trying to get back to his musical self,” Lavelle recalls.

With Lavelle’s help, Logan played his first proper gig in some 40 years, at the Bowery Poetry Club on Feb. 17, 2009. Later that year they recorded an album for Tompkins Square Records, The Giuseppi Logan Quintet, also featuring François Grillot on bass, Warren Smith on drums, and one of Logan’s former collaborators, Dave Burrell, on piano.

“The main thing for me, to be honest, was just to make Giuseppi feel good and to give him some money and some CDs to sell in the park,” recalls Rosenthal. “He made his first record in 45 years, and that was enough. But the record was surprisingly well received.”

Lavelle says that he and Logan had been working on a return to the freeform explorations of the 1960s, and making progress toward another album, before a series of hospitalizations thwarted the plan.

“I learned a lot about the humanity in music from Ornette Coleman,” Lavelle says. “But Giuseppi to me was the ultimate example of that. His music was all about really how he felt, who he was, and how vulnerable he was. There’s this one video of us at Local 269, where he plays ‘My Favorite Things.’ He pretty much plays the melody and does some variations on it. But there’s so much of his sound; nobody else would ever, ever play it that way.”

Beyond the raw originality of the expression, there was a power of commitment. “His thing with music was in the extreme,” Lavelle adds. “It truly was more important than anything else. Giuseppi was one of those guys who was almost consumed by how much he wanted to get inside of the music. Everything else in his life was connected to this prime directive that he had.”

American Gypsy - 1974 - Angel Eyes

American Gypsy
Angel Eyes

01. Inside Out 5:57
02. 10.000 Miles 4:03
03. Ooh Why Not 4:06
04. Golden Ring 4:22
05. Lady Eleanor 3:58
06. Angel Eyes 3:45
07. While It's Cold Outside 4:28
08. Stuck On You 2:56
09. Let Your Life Lead By Love 3:02
10. Tribute To American Gypsy 3:18

Bass, Mellotron – Joe Skeete
Drums – Richard James
Guitar – Dale Harrel Jr., Michael Hamane
Lead Vocals – Steve Clisby
Percussion – Lorenzo Mills, Richard James
Piano, Alto Saxophone – Steve Clisby
Vocals – Dale Harrel Jr., Joe Skeete, Lorenzo Mills, Michael Hamane

Since 1963, this funk group of American origin has performed under diverse names such as Blue Morning, Orpheus and Pasadena Ghetto Orchestra. American Gypsy began club performances in Los Angeles in 1971, followed by a two-year tour of Spain. When the group settled in Amsterdam, The Netherlands in the early 70's, the line-up was: Joe Skeete (bass guitar), Michael Hamane (lead guitar), Lorenzo Mills (vocals), Richard James aka Ricardo James (drums), David Harrell (vocals, guitar, sax, flute) and Steve Clisby (vocals, keyboards). During their American period, individual members recorded sessions with many popular artists: Barry White, The Byrds, Young Rascals, Frank Zappa, Jefferson Airplane, Dr. John and Santana.

They continued live club performances throughout Europe and was one of the more popular r&b/rock acts on the club circuit during that time.

Funk group of American origin who came to the Netherlands in 1972, and recorded their first album "Angel Eyes” on Philips (Netherland) in 1974. The same year, the same album issued on “Ariola” german label with a different cover. The year after in 1975, the same album (2nd pressing) issued with the title “American Gypsy” and its black cover on btm records. Great soul funk album including the killer tune “Inside out”, in the vein of the UK tune “Talking About Love” by FBI.
Besides, you can find an album named “American Gypsy”, by the band Gypsy on CBS label in 1970. But there is no relation between these both groups……~
The band’s actually got an interesting, if somewhat torturous history. Formed in the early-1960s, over the next decade the group went through a series of name, personnel and genre changes, including Blue Morning, Orpheus, and The Pasadena Ghetto Orchestra (love that last name). They managed to pay their bills as sessions players, supporting a wide array of acts ranging from The Byrds to Barry White.
Frustrated with their inability to break on their own, in 1972 the group (with a line up consisting of singer Steve Clisby, guitarists Michael Hamane and Dale Harrel Jr., drummer Richard James, percussionist Lorezo Mills, and bassist Joe Skeete), decided to abandon the US music scene and take a stab at success in Europe. Avoiding the UK they opted to take up residence in Limburg, Holland where they caught the attention of manager/producers Piet Souer and Hans van Hemert who proved instrumental in getting them signed to Philips (Ariola signing them to a German distribution agreement).

Released in 1974, the band debuted with the single 'Angel Eyes’ b/w 'Let Your Life Be Led By Love’ (Philips catalog number 6012435). A mix of Sly Stoned-psych and disco stomper the single proved a surprise hit. As was standard marketing procedure, Philips rushed the band into the studio to record a supporting LP - the cleverly-titled “Angel Eyes”. Picking up on the band’s success, Chess jumped in signing on as the band’s US distributor. Who knows why, but for the domestic market Chess elected 

Co-produced by Souer and van Hemert, their 1975 album debut “American Gypsy” was a diverse and somewhat enigmatic enterprise. With most of the band and producers Souer and van Hemert contributing material, the album bounced all over the musical spectrum. As lead singer Clisby had a chameleon-like voice capable of mimicking everyone from classic love man crooner ('10,000 Miles’) to whacked out Sly Stone ('Lady Eleanor’). The latter had to be the strangest cover of a Lindisfarne song you’ll ever hear and was actually a Dutch hit. The diversity factor may have been unsettling but made for album that was also a lot of fun to play 'spot-the-influence’ with. The lead off rocker 'Inside Out’ recalled a blend of Sly Stone funk and Barrett Whitfield produced psychedelic-era Temptations. Written by van Hemert 'Ooh Why Not’ sounded like first-rate Brit pop - imagine a Chapman-Chinn production with Beach Boys harmonies attached. 'Golden Ring’ was conventional old school soul, before breaking into a jazzy scat propelled ending. There was even a pretty cool synthesizer-driven progressive instrumental - the closer 'Tribute To American Gypsy’ ! Not the year’s most original offering, but fun through and through. For the US market Chess also tapped the LP for a single in the form of 'Angel Eyes’ b/w '10,000 Miles’ (Chess catalog number CH-2170). Both the single and the parent LP went nowhere effectively spelling the end to their US recording career. ….bad cat….~

Milton Wright - 1977 - Spaced

Milton Wright

01. She Can Have Anything She Wants
02. Dance Have Fun
03. Magic Music
04. All I Know Is That I Have You
05. Let's Take A Break
06. You Like To Dance
07. You Don't Even Know Me
08. Leave Me Alone
09. Be With Me
10. Job

Rare second album from the guy behind the steppers anthem Keep it Up features his sought-after rubber-limbed indy funk dancefloor bomb Take a Break!

Rare Miami soul and funk! Highly recommended!

Rarely on eBay and extremely hard to find, Milton Wright's 2nd album 'Spaced' is an ultra-rare LP that soul and rare groove collectors often talk about - but never get to hear. Recorded by the same enigmatic soul singer who gave us the immortal club classic 'Keep it Up', the album 'Spaced' was overlooked by his record company and the public because it was released just as superstar status was dawning on fellow label mates KC & the Sunshine Band. Overshadowed by the ensuing fame of their sidekicks, the album was suspended in a commercial no man's land. Adding insult to injury, the piles of unsold copies were subsequently destroyed in a warehouse fire.

A few copies escaped the flames, and a few intrepid collectors have managed to track them down. Those lucky enough to hear one have been astounded that such a quality album of beautiful, soulful music has been allowed to remain unheard and unloved for so long.

This is the second release in Jazzman's Holy Grail reissue series, featuring those super-ultra, rarest-of-the-rare albums that everyone wants, but nobody can find. Rarely on eBay and extremely hard to find, Milton Wright's second album, 1977's Spaced is an ultra-rare LP that soul and rare groove collectors often talk about but never get to hear. Recorded by the same enigmatic soul singer who gave us the immortal club classic "Keep it Up," this album was overlooked by his record company and the public because it was released just as superstar status was dawning on fellow label mates KC & The Sunshine Band. Overshadowed by the ensuing fame of their sidekicks, the album was suspended in a commercial no-man's-land. Adding insult to injury, the piles of unsold copies were subsequently destroyed in a warehouse fire. A few copies escaped the flames, and a few intrepid collectors have managed to track them down. Those lucky enough to hear one have been astounded that such a quality album of beautiful, soulful music has been allowed to remain unheard and unloved for so long. Unbelievably meticulous funk/soul, with an effortless, mellow vibe. All songs never-before reissued -- previously only available as a highly-collectable LP valued at well over $1,000. Fully licensed and restored from original sources. Housed in the original album artwork in a package that includes a 4-page color booklet with in-depth liner notes from original interviews with previously-unpublished photographs.

Milton Wright - 1975 - Friends and Buddies

Milton Wright 
Friends and Buddies

01. Brothers & Sisters 4:15
02. My Ol' Lady 3:10
03. Black Man 4:10
04. Friends And Buddies 3:25
05. Get No Lovin' Tonight 4:05
06. The Silence That You Keep 3:22
07. Nobody Can Touch You 3:55
08. Po' Man 6:47

Acoustic Guitar, Arranged By, Backing Vocals – Milton Wright
Backing Vocals – Jeannette Holloway (Wright)
Backing Vocals, Percussion – Betty Wright
Bass Guitar – George Perry
Congas – Oliver Brown, Vernon Hicks
Electric Piano – Latimore
Flute, Saxophone – Gerald Smith
Oboe – Garry Greene
Organ – Eric Fearman
Piano – Timmy Thomas
Rhythm Guitar – Nathaniel "Snoopy" Dean
Tambourine – Vernon Hicks

One of the most unique albums to ever come out of the Miami soul scene of the 70s – a sublime set of work that we’d easily rank right up there with the best material of the time from Donny Hathaway or Stevie Wonder! Milton Wright has a really jazzy groove to his music – and he mixes his own acoustic guitar lines with warm keyboards and unusual rhythms that often have a bit of synth or moog – never too much, and almost more of a Mizell-like touch, but a bit more understated overall!

The cuts are wonderfully written – quite righteous, almost with a Terry Callier sort of sensitivity – and Milton‘s vocals more than have the chops to live up to the heady batch of artists we’re comparing him to in these notes. The sound is amazing throughout – one of those soul records that feels like nothing else you’ve ever heard, but which you can’t live without once you’ve heard it!

Athens of the North is proud to present Milton Wright's stunning alternate version of the now Classic Miami soul LP 'Friends & Buddies'. An altogether more stripped down, folky soul affair than its highly respected, much sampled brother is now available on Vinyl, CD and Digital for the very first time.

Shelved at the last minute then re-recorded and overdubbed, only a few promo copies of this early version escaped from the studio and are deep in the collections of the very few previously in the know.

The master tapes burnt in a fire at T.K Disco in Miami in the early 80s so even the label has not heard this in 30 Years. Many reissues of the second version of Friends & Buddies LP have come and gone, but Milton's original vision has remained hidden until now.

As searingly honest and stunningly soulful as any seminal Marvin Gaye or Terry Callier LP, it stands tall amongst its exceptional peers as one of the true pillars of quality 70s soul.

Friends and Buddies is one of those albums every 70s soul fan has; if the original folk-funk version had been released in 1975 then you suspect it would be one of those albums most music fans either knew or had.

As Milton - now a retired judge in Boston - says: "If I had stuck with the first version of the album I might have been more successful." The issue of the first version is lot more Terry Callier than Stevie Wonder; stripped of keyboards its subtlety makes it more powerful and direct.

The release of original Friends and Buddies most likely won't put Milton Wright in the hall of fame, but if I were president then I'd announce a national holiday in celebration.

"My music is the product of my Miami experience; the Caribbean and Latino influence; my midwestern sojourn; the Boston grooming and Gospel roots."

Ken Munson - 1973 - Super Flute

Ken Munson
Super Flute 

01. Super Flute 2:35
02. I Can See Clearly Now 2:44
03. Brandy (You're A Fine Girl) 3:25
04. Rocks In My Bed 3:56
05. Scramble 3:00
06. Night Train 3:15
07. Back Stabbers 1:57
08. Papa Was A Rolling Stone 2:52
09. Ode To Billy Joe 3:45
10. Me And Mrs. Jones 2:57

Arranged By – Robert Banks
Producer – John Bennings

Super flute may sound a little cheesy album title and it reminds me of those cheap Italian, German or British cover albums that were released by the dozens in the 1970s. But as you know, one should never judge the record by it’s title - or cover. Ken Munson plays his flute like the greats Herbie Mann or Moe Koffman, but instead of jazziness, he does it more soulful way. The title track “Super flute” is a great uptempo funky track with breaks and all. And there’s more groovers as well. Uptempo flute funk tracks “Scramble” and “Papa was a rolling stone” with midtempo “Rocks in my bed”, “Back stabbers” and “Ode to Billy Joe” are enough for a reason to buy this one. Although little is known of Kenneth “Ken” Munson, I must admit that Super flute is really a magnificent album. It always gets you to a good mood no matter what…

Fans of Bobbi Humphrey’s Mizell Brothers-produced LPs for Blue Note, as well as Harold Alexander’s dates for Flying Dutchman, should add to their wants’ lists Ken Munson’s Super Flute. Munson isn’t quite in the same league as Humphrey or Alexander, mind you, but his flute playing is effortlessly funky, and listeners with a preference for the first half of the soul-jazz equation will find much to savor. Munson keeps the music feather-light and upbeat, drawing most of his material from the contemporary pop charts – familiar melodies like “I Can See Clearly Now,” “Back Stabbers,” and “Papa Was a Rolling Stone” glisten and glide, buoyed by sweetly soulful arrangements and flute breaks that soar and twist like lightning bugs at dawn….. by Jason Ankeny….allmusic…~

Mighty Joe Young - 1976 - Bluesy Josephine

Mighty Joe Young
Bluesy Josephine

01 .Teasin' The Blues 10:24
02. Five Long Years 9:25
03. Sweet Home Chicago 8:30
04. Wisefool Express 5:33
05. Take Money 5:29
cd bonus:
06. Take A Fool Advice 4:42
07. Need A Friend 4:36

Bass Guitar – Cornelius Boyson
Drums – Willie Hayes
Guitar, Vocals – Mighty Joe Young
Piano – Willy Mabo (tracks: A1, B3)
Piano, Organ – Ken Sajdak

Recorded on November 28t 1976 at Condorcet Studio, Toulouse (FR).

Not exactly the most incendiary outing that Chicago guitarist Mighty Joe Young has ever cut. This 1976 album was cut in France for Black & Blue with a handful of Chicago stalwarts, but the excitement that Young routinely summoned up back home is in short supply as he walks through "Sweet Home Chicago" and "Five Long Years." Young's own "Takes Money" and "Need a Friend" are a definite improvement on those shopworn standards, but with only seven lengthy selections ("Teasing the Blues" runs 10:27), there isn't a lot to choose from.

Mighty Joe Young - 1974 - Chicken Heads

Mighty Joe Young 
Chicken Heads

01. Move On Higher 3:59
02. Mighty Man 3:22
03. As The Years Go Passing By 4:28
04. Flowet Pot 3:18
05. Serve My Time 3:55
06. Chicken Heads 4:00
07. Rome Wasn't Built In A Day 3:58
08. Big Talk 5:12
09. Take Over Chicago 2:59
10. Something On Your Mind 3:36

Bass – Louis Satterfield
Drums, Percussion – Ira Gates
Engineer – Jim Dolan
Guitar – Ron Steele
Guitar, Vocals – Mighty Joe Young
Piano, Organ, Clavinet – Floyd Morris
Producer – Dick Schory, Scott A. Cameron

Born in 1927 in Shreveport, Louisiana, Young began playing in the early 1950s, working clubs in Milwaukee and then back in his native Louisiana where in 1955 he first recorded for the Jiffy label. He was already well known for his work with the harmonica-player Billy Boy Arnold, the guitarist Jimmy Rogers, and his brilliant contemporary Otis Rush, when in 1961 a manager added the "Mighty" sobriquet to his name for his solo albums for the little Fire label. The name was borrowed from the 1949 cult movie about a gorilla, Mighty Joe Young, a remake of which was released just last week.
Young is notable in blues history for breaking out of the South Side Chicago ghetto and playing to largely white audiences on the North Side, becoming a regular on the US and European festival and university circuits and at Chicago night-clubs. He played every New Year's Eve at the Wise Fools club for 12 consecutive years, and released an album recorded there, Live at the Wise Fools Pub, in 1990. His playing and singing was in many ways a bridge between the sound of the Chicago blues bands which had nurtured him in his early days, and the soul music that had broken through to "cross- over" acceptance; his solo albums included Blues with a Touch of Soul (1970), Legacy of the Blues (1972), Chicken Heads (1974) and Mighty Joe Young (1976).
Young appeared regularly on albums by Magic Sam (Morris Holt), Willie Dixon, Albert King, Jimmy Dawkins, and Tyrone Davis (and also on Davis's hit single, "Can I Change My Mind"), but it was his playing with Koko Taylor at Chicago's first Grant Park Blues Festival in 1969, recreated on her Grammy-nominated debut album Alligator six years later, which helped to establish both of them as contemporary blues artists of stature.

Between tours, in 1986 Young took his band into the studio for a self- financed album over which he would have total artistic control, a project which took over 10 years to come to fruition as Mighty Man. After recording only three numbers he went into hospital for surgery on a pinched nerve in his neck. "That's when things started to go to hell," he recalled later. "I went in on September 3 and I got back out at the end of October. I was in rehab for a year."

A keen amateur boxer in his early years, he had continued to work out in the gym all his life - and especially when he strove for 10 years to learn to walk again and regain his strength after the operation which disabled him - and with his barrel chest and deep, throaty voice, he had an impressive stage presence which continued well into his 70th year.

Mighty Joe Young - 1972 - The Legacy Of The Blues Vol. 4

Mighty Joe Young
The Legacy Of The Blues Vol. 4

01. Rock Me Baby
02. Baby Please
03. Just A Minute
04. Drivin' Wheel
05. Wishy Washy Woman
06. Early In The Morning
07. Sweet Kisses
08. Lookin' For You
09. It's All Right
10. I Have The Same Old Blues

Bass – Sylvester Boines
Drums – Alvino Bennett
Piano – Bob Reidy
Tenor Saxophone – Walter Hambrick
Trumpet – Charles Beecham
Vocals, Guitar – Mighty Joe Young

Recorded in Chicago 1972.

There was a time during the late '70s and early '80s when Mighty Joe Young was one of the leading blues guitarists on Chicago's budding North side blues circuit. The Louisiana native got his start not in the Windy City, but in Milwaukee, where he was raised. He earned a reputation as a reliable guitarist on Chicago's West side with Joe Little & his Heart Breakers during the mid-'50s, later changing his on-stage allegiance to harpist Billy Boy Arnold. Young recorded with Arnold for Prestige and Testament during the '60s and backed Jimmy Rogers for Chess in 1958.

After abortive attempts to inaugurate a solo career with Jiffy Records in Louisiana in 1955 and Chicago's Atomic-H label three years later, Young hit his stride in 1961 with the sizzling "Why Baby"/"Empty Arms" for Bobby Robinson's Fire label. Young gigged as Otis Rush's rhythm guitarist from 1960 to 1963 and cut a series of excellent Chicago blues 45s for a variety of firms: "I Want a Love," "Voo Doo Dust," and "Something's Wrong" for Webcor during the mid-'60s; "Something's Wrong" for Webcor in 1966; "Sweet Kisses" and "Henpecked" on Celtex and "Hard Times (Follow Me)" for USA (all 1967), and "Guitar Star" for Jacklyn in 1969. Young even guested on Bill "Hoss" Allen's groundbreaking 1966 syndicated R&B TV program The Beat in Dallas. Late-'60s session work included dates with Tyrone Davis and Jimmy Dawkins.

Delmark issued Young's solo album debut, Blues With a Touch of Soul, in 1971, but a pair of mid-'70s LPs for Ovation (1974's Chicken Heads and an eponymous set in 1976) showcased the guitarist's blues-soul synthesis far more effectively. Young's main local haunt during the '70s and early '80s was Wise Fools Pub, where he packed 'em in nightly (with Freddy King's brother, Benny Turner, on bass).

In 1986 Joe began work on a self-financed recording that would finally allow him to have complete artistic control. At this time he also discovered surgery was needed on a pinched nerve in his neck. Following the operation, complications arose that affected his ability to play guitar. As part of psychical therapy he continued to work on the album sporadically until Mighty Man was finally released in 1997. Unfortunately health problems continued to plague Mighty Joe and he passed away on March 25, 1999 in Chicago. He was 71. 

Mighty Joe Young (Young was using the name well before the movie of the same name was released) arrived on the Chicago blues scene from Louisiana a bit late in the game and never really received the critical attention he deserved. Add in health problems related to a pinched nerve in his neck, and Young's solo recording dates were relatively few (he was, however, an active sideman, working for a time as Otis Rush's rhythm guitarist) given his obvious talent as an electric guitarist and as a strong and sturdy vocalist. This solid set, The Sonet Blues Story, was tracked in Chicago in 1972 and was originally released as part of Samuel Charters' Legacy of the Blues series on the Stockholm-based Sonet Records imprint. It features Young with the rhythm section from his club band at the time: Sylvester Boines on bass and Alvino Bennett on drums, along with Chicago session pianist Bob Reidy, and horn men Charles Beechham (trumpet) and Walter Hambrick (tenor sax). Together they produce a classic South Side sound. Highlights include the elegantly done opener, "Rock Me Baby," a solid cover of Percy Mayfield's "Baby, Please," and a pair of horn-augmented gems, the instrumental soul piece "Just a Minute" and the blues/R&B blend of "Lookin' for You." Nothing here is too flashy, but that ends up being part of the charm.

This Mighty Joe Young set was originally released as part of the Legacy of the Blues set issued in or around 1974. There is a companion book to the set that was written by blues scholar Samuel B. Charters. Through and through, from the first track to the last this is a set of sizzling, electric Chicago blues. I much prefer this CD to Might Joe's Delmark CD. For complete background pick up the book as well, it is a profile of 12 great blues artists.

Mighty Joe Young - 1971 - Blues With a Touch of Soul

Mighty Joe Young
Blues With a Touch of Soul

01. I Walked All Night 3:08
02. Somebody Loan Me A Dime 10:40
03. Every Man Needs A Woman 8:24
04. Why Baby 5:37
05. Things I Used To Doo 3:52
06. Got A Bad Case Of Loving You 6:00
07. Honky Tonk 5:23

Bass – Sylvester Boines
Drums – Hezekiah Roby
Guitar – Jimmy Dawkins
Guitar, Vocals – Mighty Joe Young
Organ, Piano – John "Big Moose" Walker
Tenor Saxophone – Dennis Lansing
Trumpet – Jordan Sandke

Mighty Joe Young, longtime sideman for Magic Sam, leads his own 1970 session on Blues With A Touch Of Soul (Delmark DD-629; 43:18). With Dawkins on second guitar and John “Big Moose” Walker on piano and organ, Young turns in urgent and earthy renditions of Albert King’s “I Walked All Night,” Guitar Slim’s “The Things I Used To Do” and Bill Doggett’s instrumental classic “Honky Tonk.” But he digs deepest here on the slow blues, “Somebody Loan Me A Dime.” Mandolin is not an instrument usually associated with the blues but Yank Rachell sure deals with the ten-stringed instrument in deep blue shades on Mandolin Blues (Delmark DE-606; 58:14). This 1963 session features country blues masters Big Joe Williams and Sleepy John Estes on guitar and Hammie Nixon on harmonica and jug with a special guest appearance by guitarist Mike Bloomfield on seven tracks. Another important document from Delmark. (Keep ’em coming, boys).

I first purchased this album around 1987 when I was turning on to the Blues in a major league way, and it just embodied everything tasteful and tuneful that I loved about the music. Joe Young and Jimmy Dawkins both hit a nice steady playful groove on this record. The guitar work on every tune is masterful, and as blues albums go the lyrics and singing are all top notch. There is a nice mix of jazz and soul factored in to the album (as the title would indicate), but it never strays far from the blues bullseye. Jordan Sandke and Dennis Lansing add some really delectible trumpet and sax throughout, and Big Moose Walker has some real sweet turns on the 88s and organ. This is an album you can play over and over again and never get tired of, as the guitar playing just seduces you with it's incredible righteousness. Believe me, there are NO bad cuts on this baby! If you love cruising late at night on the open highway listening to the Blues, buy this fantastic record immediately. Your life will be instantly enriched. The last song on the disk, called Honky Tonk, is the only instrumental and is just magical! Get into it ASAP! A real keeper....