Thanks for checking out CDJ month, everybody!
Thursday, February 28, 2013
Thanks for checking out CDJ month, everybody!
Wednesday, February 27, 2013
As CJD month winds down, here's a concert appearance from Montreux, Switzerland in 1971. Check out Aretha in the audience in the red dress!
This was released on LP as well, but it's really the sort of thing YouTube was invented for.
Monday, February 25, 2013
Posted by Snidely Whiplash at 11:08 PM
One of the most unusual recordings of Champion Jack's career was made in 1967 with T.S. McPhee from the Groundhogs. The 'hogs had backed up Champion Jack on a 1964 tour, and McPhee played on Champion Jack's first Decca recordings, alongside Eric Clapton and John Mayall. When CDJ was signed to Decca blues spinoff writeoff Blue Horizon in '67, somebody had the bright idea to pair Champion Jack's voice with solo guitar accompaniment.
Jack doesn't play piano on these recordings at all - it's just him and McPhee's acoustic guitar. The result is unique in the British-Blues-Personality-Plays-With-Blues-Legend genre, and it's a very pleasant listen. The songs are all short, and while some of them are readymades, they sound different than CDJ's usual readymades. Dupree's sounds warm and engaged, and McPhee is neither to staid or showoffy.
The recordings basically stayed in the vault until Ace released them on CD in 1997. A 45 of "Get Your Head Happy" came out in the late 60s in a limited white label only run.
You can hear the whole thing on Spotify.
The Snow Is on the Ground
Saturday, February 23, 2013
Friday, February 22, 2013
|Dupree with pianist Curtis Jones and some unknown guide|
Jack eventually moved to Switzerland, then Denmark, the UK (where he got married for the third time), then Sweden, and finally Germany. He'd record dozens of records while in Europe, and many of them would have songs expressing how happy he was to be out of the states.
There are numerous examples of Jack's sorrow over the condition of race relations in the states, including his eulogy to Martin Luther King and a sorrowful live cut called "Black and White Blues" (where he actually tells his European audience that they should be psyched to be white, making him one of the ballsiest of the blues revivalists of the late 60s playing to white college kids with romantic ideas of southern poverty).
Two non-youtoobabble examples I'll leave you with are the terribly sad "Poor Poor Me" and "I'm Happy to Be Free". "Poor Poor Me" was cut in the Mid-60s for the first of his "jam with the popular British guitarists album", From New Orleans to Chicago, which featured John Mayall, Eric Clapton, and T.S. McPhee. "I'm Happy to Be Free" was cut for a relaxed Mickey Baker session in the late 60s and appeared on the GNP LP of the same name.
Jack would not return to the states until the late 80s, when he recorded a couple of albums for Rounder in New Orleans. He died in Germany in 1992.
"Poor Poor Me"
"I'm Happy to Be Free"
More thoughts on Copenhagen on "Roll Me Over Roll Me Slow"
Curb-Service - Billy Dee & the Super-Chargers
Bulldozer - Les De Merle & his Band
Goofin' - Robbie Robinson Orch.
Gibraltar Rock - The Rockets
Rat Trap - Ralph Grasso
Take it off!
Posted by J.R. Williams at 12:25 PM
Wednesday, February 20, 2013
Before we move to Europe with Champion Jack Dupree, I want to do a quick clean-up on a few stray tracks lying around that I haven't had a chance to note yet. Specifically I want to talk about Babs Gonzales.
Babs Gonzales was a jazz and jive singer who lived in New York City and did the bulk of his recordings in the 40s and 50s. His style of jive was less knocked out and random than, say, Slim Gaillard (he even wrote his own dictionary of jive much like Gaillard's published-on-Ichiban-somewhere Dictionary of Vout), and he eventually ended up in the weird world of vocalese, managing James Moody and no doubt sharing ideas with Eddie Jefferson and King Pleasure, occasionally subbing for Mel Tormé at gigs. Champion Jack seemed impressed enough with his rap to incoprorate some of his nonsensery into his own introductions.
The two collaborated on the first side of the only Gonzales KING 45, "House Rent Party". Apparently Babs crashed a Dupree session to lay down this tale of crashing/mooching his way through a house party. Which, believe it or not, gets busted. Dupree lays down the piano on this cut.
Monday, February 18, 2013
That Blues from the Gutter was one of the first blues LPs Jones heard and was a huge influence on his playing is documented in several sources. But a description of his first time hearing the record is documented in the book Foundation Stone, by Graham Ride, a friend of Jones' in Cheltenham, and apparently the guy who introduced him to the record.
A description of that event, along with a good breakdown of Blues from the Gutter track-for-track, can be found in an excerpt from the book from the author's website. The upshot of Ride's thesis is that before Ride played Jones BFTG* he was something of a trad/jazz snob, but after hearing the record he is a blues convert, saying more than once, "I just have to play this stuff . . . what a sound."
|He got the habit|
|But the 45 sure is purty|
Sunday, February 17, 2013
Byrd (1920 - 2005) made a name for himself as one of the nation's top (non-pedal) steel guitar talents in the 1940s and '50s. He spent time playing in Ernest Tubb's Texas Troubadours before departing to join up with Red Foley and play steel in his band for several years. In the early '60s, he began exploring Hawaiian music and recorded several LPs in that vein. Byrd eventually relocated to Hawaii in the late '60s and remained there until his death.
Here's a track from his 1964 Monument LP, Admirable Byrd.
Jerry Byrd - Theme For A DJ (2:06)
Friday, February 15, 2013
In 1956 Jack packed up his piano and moved over to RCA subsidiary Groove/Vik, where he continued to rack up the classic 7" platters. His only 45 on Groove was a sequel to "Walkin' the Blues". This time Jack is joined on his walk - and his retreat from mother-in-laws* - with Teddy "Mr. Bear" McRae, I guess figuring with Mr. Bear's radar they'll remain undetected as they clip and clop.
|Lotsa killer, some filler|
Whereas "Shim Sham Shimmy" gains most of its power from its guitars, "Old Time" is all about the drums, the piano and the crazy stuff Jack is saying. And Gene Moore's drums. The drummers on all of Jack's Vik recordings is either Willie Jones or Gene Moore, and even more than the guitar players they are the secondary stars of the sessions.
And just because I can't quit, here's a couple of Larry Dale solo cuts, backed by Dupree and Mickey Baker. Both were unissued by Groove in the 50s. Enjoy.
*A few words about Dupree and mother-in-laws. Nobody this side of Ernie K-Doe made more musical hay about the notion of the bossy, fear-inducing mother-in-law than Jack Dupree. I was going to, at one point, post a compendium of every Dupree track that mentioned his mother-in-law troubles, but I gave it up. As they say in bad e-Bay/Craig's List record lot auctions, "too many to list." Anyway, considering that Jack was on mother-in-law rants since way back in the 40s and K-Doe didn't have his hit 'til '61, I think it's safe to say that's yet another way he had a profound influence on New Orleans music.
* Then again, I can't do the "Clapping Song" so maybe I am just instructionally challenged.
*To continue with the theme of Jack's left hand, the break he throws down right after he says "Last time now" is one of his most thrillingly chaotic.
*word to the wise - even though these cuts were not issued originally (they do appear on the Charly LP Still Groove Jumping), Jazzman released the above cuts as a 45 as a part of their Jukebox Jam series.
Thursday, February 14, 2013
Champion Jack really changes his musical style for his run of singles on the King label. The intensity is significantly lessened - the rollicking groove of the Red Robin recordings becomes much more of a laid back stroll. There is far more space between instruments, and both he and his accompanists play with far more restraint and deliberation. The overall effect is a real "uptowning" of his musical sound.
|Mickey and Jack in the 60s|
|Thank you Mr. Sears and Roebuck!|
Wednesday, February 13, 2013
The rock 'n' roll era agreed with Jack Dupree. I don't think that I'll be ruffling the suitfeathers of anyone who comes to this website's frequently by asserting that Champion Jack Dupree did the majority of his best work in the 50s. His recordings for Red Robin, Groove/Vik and King are certainly the most Ichiban-appropriate material he'd ever cut, and some of the 45s he released in this era are iconic, exciting, dance floor monstrosities of undying magnificence.
|Must be the backbeat!|
SHAKE BABY SHAKE on ROBIN (all the youtubes SLS).
But of course the crown jewel in the Red Robin trilogy, and I'm sure for some of you the greatest Champion Jack Dupree record of all times is the wild "Shim Sham Shimmy"/"Drunk Again" double shot. I first heard "Shim Sham Shimmy" on the classic Lookey Dookey comp, released by some anonymous genius (he must want to remain anonymous because he's always wearin' shades). If there is ever a party that this song can't take up to another level, I don't want to go to it. "Take off your your tie, hang onto your skirt, get down real low and reach right down in the dirt!"
The flip, "Drunk Again", shows Jack developing his oddball "hairlip" voice that he'd use on so many of his King releases. "Your breath smells like you've been chewing chinches or drinking bed bug juice!"
Tuesday, February 12, 2013
While Champion Jack Dupree was growing up in New Orleans, he was Spyboy for the Yellow Pocahontas tribe of Mardi Gras Indians. This was in the 20s and early 30s, prior to his exodous from Nola to start his boxing career.
He talks about his experiences in the song "Yellow Pocahontas", originally from the pretty great When You Get the Feeling You Was Feeling LP.
Monday, February 11, 2013
Check out this fantastic solo piano footage from CJD, recorded in France in the 60s. Dupree's set starts at 13:41. The pianist who plays the first set is Joe Turner (not the Big one), a stride pianist whose sophisticated style makes for great contrast to the Champ's enthusiastic finger stomp.
Jack's set is about 20 minutes long and covers the basic gamut of his techniques. Drinking with his left hand while playing with his right? Check. Foot tap solo? Nice one, at 21:00. Shakespeare mangling? Yup. Story about a "chicken" house where they sold whiskey called "Sonny kick your Mammy" and reefer called "Brother Jones"? Yes.
He also explains his wild left handed style (at 28:20) by saying, "They keys I hit, I don't know - you'll have to ask Joe Turner. I just hit anywhere. Like Shakespeare say, black and white will do."
Saturday, February 9, 2013
Friday, February 8, 2013
As the rhythm and blues era continued throughout the 40s, Champion Jack continued to ply his trade and in 1949 made half a dozen records for the famous New York based Apollo label. Some of the most interesting of these were made with "Big Chief Ellis and his Blues All Stars".
Here's a couple of hot ones.
Thursday, February 7, 2013
And, according to John Orr: "I cooked for the [Japanese] officers, so I had to eat what they ate, so it wouldn't be poisoned. I had help and everything, a nice room, a bottle of cognac a month, cigars, cigarettes -- it was just like working in a hotel, but with no place to go."
Wednesday, February 6, 2013
In the interest of further illustration of Champion Jack's awesomely inaccurate left hand as a piano player, check out this cover of Louis Jordan's "Early in the Morning", here called "Too Early in the Morning", from one of his mid-60's albums, New Orleans to Chicago. While the album cover bills a ton of British Blues guitarists, this performance is solo, except maybe for the drum break, which may or may not be a washboard or CJD beating on his piano. I suspect that the fumbling nature of this recording may have to do with Jack being fairly well lubricated at the time it was recorded, but it swings like a dazed boxer in a ring who doesn't know any better than to fall down.
DUPREE! DUPREE! DUPREE! DUPREE!
Columbia Records, 1953. Photo by Ezra Stoller.
If I were in NYC, I would most certainly plan on dropping by the Yossi Milo gallery in Chelsea to check out the display of architectural and industrial photographs taken by Ezra Stoller. More information about Stoller and his wonderful work can be found in this New York Times article.
Tuesday, February 5, 2013
Posted by gene sculatti at 7:28 PM
Jack wound up his career as a boxer in Indianapolis, where he took a job as a bouncer at Sea Ferguson's Cotton Club. It was here he met Leroy Carr, who influenced Jack's New Orleans barrelhouse piano with his more uptown, nascent Chicago Blues style. It was a combination of these two styles that made up his playing for most of the rest of his career. He travelled to Chicago, where, according to the song "See My Milk Cow", he met Big Bill Broonzy, Tampa Red, and Jazz Gillum, who helped him get his first recording contract, with OKeh. He made his first recording in 1940 and is often credited with being the first New Orleans blues pianist to be recorded.
|Top row: Jazz Gillum, Tampa Red, Scrapper Blackwell|
Bottom row: Jack Dupree, Big Bill Broonzy
in front - Tampa Red's whiskey drinking dog.
His first release was "Warehouse Man Blues," a song that combines a number of elements that would be cycled and recycled throughout his work. It's pretty funny, but it's also a striking bit of social commentary about being black and poor in a white man's world. CJD would address these issues more fully in the 60s - it was pretty much why he abandoned the United States for England and mainland Europe.
"My grandma left this morning with a basket in her hand
she going to the warehouse to see the warehouse man
she got down to the warehouse, and white folks said 'ain't no use,
the governor ain't giving away nothin' but that canned grapefruit juice.'
It's a low down dirty shame the way these projects doin.
Now Uncle Sam paid the men that bonus
You know that was mighty fine
You fill them street walkin' women up with that moonlight wine
You spent all your money, you spent it mighty fast
Now this winter breeze bout to jam you with a . . . yeah! yeah!
Don't you know the relief is closing down?
It's a low down shame the way they really do."
(Paid for) sex, booze, poverty, righteous anger at injustice, double entendre, a woman who has mother in her name that is not quite the singer's mother - it's just about all there, except for the heroin and the cabbage. And the shaking.
Jack cut enough tracks to release four records on his first date in 1940, including the utterly stompin' "Cabbage Greens" and "New Low Down Dog", an early version of "Stumbling Block", one of his best known and loved rockers.
He was back six months later for another one, when he unleashed the "Dupree Shake Dance" and a song that would have a huge influence on the sound of New Orleans rhythm and blues (and by extension rock and roll in general), "Junker Blues".
You hear a lot about the key piano professors of New Orleans, and too often Jack Dupree does not get mentioned on the list. But his rolling figures and general acceptance of all facets of human behavior are at the heart of New Orleans music. Fats Domino would take this song, remove all of the references to drugs and squalor (not easy, since that's just about all there is to the lyrics), and create "The Fat Man" in 1949, a song that's often one of those many "first rock and roll" songs you hear so much about. So, by logical extension, in this month's version of the story, rock and roll was created on a bed of needles, reefer, and cocaine. Something to keep in mind. "Junker's Blues" plays an important part in another key development in the history of rock and roll, but we'll get to that in a couple of weeks.
Jack recorded one more session for OKeh, in November of 1941. This session included another New Orleans styled r&b number, "Heavy Heart Blues", and some very cool early Chicago style blues which include the first appearance of electric guitar on his records.
His fledgling musical career was interrupted, however, by his first trip overseas, to serve time in World War II. He wouldn't pick up his musical career again until 1944.
Listen to "Warehouse Man Blues"
Monday, February 4, 2013
The jist is that CJD made a LOT of records. He was the John Lee Hooker of barrelhouse piano (in more ways than one, since some of his best recordings are just him, his piano and his stomp). He was always happy to reinvent one or more of his Dupree specials for whoever might be willing to give him some bread. Like John Lee, he got thrown in with an awful lot of younger, white blues players in the 60s, with similar mixed results. But he made records both rockin' and righteous all his life, he tells great autobiographical stories in a lot of his songs, and he casts a shadow over the history of enough Ichiban-oriented interests to keep us amused for a month. Plus he's hilarious.
Jack Dupree was born in New Orleans in 1909 or 1910. Like Louis Armstrong, he claimed to have been born on the 4th of July, and like Armstrong, that claim has proven to be inaccurate. Also like Louis Armstrong, he was raised in New Orleans' Home for Colored Waifs, after he lost his parents in a house or store fire that may or may not have been set by the Ku Klux Klan. Jack talks about this on his song "The Death of Louis Armstrong" and makes reference to the fire in a song called .
Jack taught himself to play piano after the orphanage acquired one from the Salvation Army, and apprenticed in the juke joints with Willie Hall, also known as Drive 'Em Down, who apparently taught him one of his signature numbers, "Junker's Blues". He reminisces about Drive 'Em Down at the start of the song "Workhouse Blues", from an early 60s session for Storyville, recorded in Denmark.
In the 30s he split New Orleans for Detroit, where he became a boxer. Here he earned, either honorably or ironically, the nickname "Champion", depending on whose stories you believe. One imagines he got sick of hitting something that hit back, so he moved to Chicago at the start of the 40s and started playing the piano again.
Listen to "The Death of Louis Armstrong"
Listen to "Workhouse Blues (Talkin' Bout Drive 'Em Down)"
sorry about so many slow songs today - we'll get to boogie plenty by month's end . . .
Relative to his large body of work and the colorfulness of his life, there does not seem to be a lot of information about Champion Jack Dupree out there. He is not the subject of any biographies, and he doesn't get a lot of mention in the blues history books I've checked. Francis Davis's History of the Blues offers a useful if slightly condescending three page biographical overview.
This blog post has a great interview with CJD and will be returned to frequently this month.
Big thanks to the exhaustive Champion Jack Dupree discography here. Pretty much my only tether to reality this month.