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samedi 16 mars 2019

LITTLE SONNY WILLIS/ DETROIT BLUES MASTERS 11


LITTLE SONNY WILLIS/ Detroit Blues Masters Vol. 11
Complete Studio Recordings 1958-74


           
Little Sonny aura connu une brève heure de gloire entre 1966 et 1974 au cours de laquelle il a été un des seuls harmonicistes de blues à réussir dans la Soul Music, alors dominante chez le public noir américain.
            Né à Casimore près de Greensboro dans l'Alabama le 6 octobre 1932, Aaron Willis a été élevé par sa mère Elmira et sa grand'mère, une Rainer d'origine Cherokee qui écoutait religieusement le Grand Ole Opry, particulièrement DeFord Bailey que Little Sonny (tout le monde l'appelait ainsi dès l'enfance) a tenté d'imiter avec l'harmonica offert tous les ans par sa mère à Noël. Venu à Detroit pour y travailler dans l'industrie automobile, Little Sonny fréquente assidument les clubs de Hastings Street dont il photographie (sa passion) les artistes et les clients et joue de l'harmonica avec les bluesmen comme John Lee Hooker, Eddie Burns, Baby Boy Warren et Sonny Boy Williamson (Rice Miller) qui a vécu quelque temps (et enregistré) à Detroit. Fondant son propre groupe qui comprend Mr Bo (Louis Collins) à la guitare et Chuck Smith au piano. Il enregistre quelques disques pour Duke (Gotta find my baby), Excello (Love shock qui est un petit succès régional) et d'autres petits labels locaux.
           
Contrairement à la plupart des bluesmen qui sont mis de côté par la montée de la vague Soul des années 60 et perdent tout contact avec le public noir, Little Sonny décide de tenter sa chance dans ce genre. Sans beaucoup changer son jeu d'harmonica Sonny se consacre à des riffs répétitifs, puissants, directs et sans fioritures, impeccablement soulignés par une rythmique funky. Il produit lui-même un 45t dans ce style pour son label Speedway (The creeper/ Latin soul) qui rencontre suffisamment d'intérêt parmi le jeune public noir pour attirer l'attention du producteur Al Bell. Sous son égide, il enregistre alors trois albums pour Enterprise, une sous-marque de Stax qui possède alors la fine fleur de la Soul Music dans son catalogue. Black & Blue, New King of the Blues harmonica et Hard Going up, produits avec soin et bien distribués permettent à Little Sonny de tourner à travers les Etats Unis avec la Volt/ Stax Revue en compagnie des plus grands noms de la Soul sudiste. Il figure ainsi dans le célèbre concert Wattstax de 1972, enregistré et filmé à Los Angeles.
            Quelque peu snobés par la critique de blues, notamment britannique, ces albums ont tous remarquablement passé le test du temps et sont aujourd'hui considérés comme des classiques, fort originaux, de l'harmonica blues.
            Mais la faillite de Stax est fatale à Little Sonny qui ne trouve plus de label et de moins en moins d'engagements. Il travaille hors de la musique avant de reformer un petit orchestre avec ses fils et d'enregistrer en 1995 Sonny side up (Sequel), beaucoup plus blues mais dans lequel on retrouve la puissance et l'originalité de ses disques antérieurs.
            Nous proposons ici, dans l'ordre chronologique, la totalité des enregistrements effectués par Little Sonny en studio entre 1958 et 1972.
                                                           Gérard HERZHAFT

     
     Little Sonny (born Aaron Willis on 6 October 1932 in Alabama) has started to learn the harmonica listening to DeFord Bailey on the Grand Ole Opry. Coming to Detroit City to work in the industry, he was soon playing (and taking pictures, his hobby) and singing with local bluesmen like John Lee Hooker, Eddie Burns, Baby Boy Warren and also learned a little more of the harp playing with Sonny Boy Williamson (Rice Miller) when the bluesman stayed for awhile in Detroit during the early 50's. Sonny started recording some singles in the late 50's with a local small hit with "Love Shock". When the Soul trend started to be the strongest musical genre among the young African-Americans, Sonny, unlike most of the other bluesmen, jumped successfully in this fledgling movement and recorded three albums for Enterprise, a Stax subsidiary, that earned him some commercial success and the opportunity to tour with the main Soul Revues of the time. Sonny did not change so much his style, forceful and straightforward, but he put his solos and instrumentals in a Soul band context a la Booker T. & The MG's. Those albums were then a little bit scorned by the blues critics (partiularly in England) but they have stood up the test of time and are today considered as classic examples of the harmonica blues of this period.
            This post gathers all the studio recordings made by Little Sonny Willis between 1958 and 1974
                                                       Gérard Herzhaft


LITTLE SONNY WILLIS
Complete Studio Recordings
Little Sonny, vcl/hca; Chuck Smith, pno; Eddie Burns, g; George Deloatch, bs; James Crawford, dms. Detroit, Mi. avril 1958
01. I gotta find my baby
02. Hear my woman calling
Little Sonny, vcl/hca; Eddie Burns, g; James Johnson, bs; James Crawford, dms. Detroit, Mi. 1959
03. Love shock
04. I'll love you baby
Good good feeling I & II (unissued) 
Lovin' man (unissued)
Our friend Tom Thumb tells us that the two hitherto 1959 unissued tracks have been in fact at long last issued under the titles "Hastings Street after hours" and "Love you pretty baby". Those are currently available on Down Home Blues - Detroit - Detroit Special Wienerworld WNRCD5095. Thanks!
Little Sonny, vcl/hca; Eddie Willis, g; Chuck Smith, pno; Sam Hall, bs; James Crawford, dms. Detroit, Mi. 1966
05. The mix up
06. Inside my heart
Little Sonny, vcl/hca; band. Detroit, Mi. 1967
07. The creeper
08. Latin Soul
Little Sonny, vcl/hca; band. Detroit, Mi. 1968
09. We got a groove
10. Sonny's bag
11. Don't ask me no questions
12. Stretchin' out
13. Let's have a good time
14. Orange pineapple
15. Down don't bother me
16. The blues for you
Little Sonny, vcl/hca; Rudy Robinson, og; g; bs; George Davidson, dms. Detroit, Mi. décembre 1969 - janvier70
17. Wade in the water
18. They want money
19. Baby what you want me to do
20. Eli's pork chop
21. Hey little girl
22. Hot potato
23. Don't ask me no questions
24. Tomorrow's blues today
25. Back down yonder
26. Sad funk
27. The creeper returns
Little Sonny, vcl/hca; Ron Gorden, og; Aaron Willis, g; Eddie Willis, g; Bobby Manuel, g; The Bar-Keys, horns; bs; Willie Hall, dms. Memphis, Tn. septembre 1971
28. Hung up
29. Sonny's fever
30. You got a good thing
31. A woman named trouble
32. Honest I do
33. Paying through the nose
34. Memphis B-K
35. Where women got meat on their bones
36. I found love
Little Sonny, vcl/hca; band. Detroit, Mi. 1971
37. Things I used to do
38. Blues with a feeling
Little Sonny, vcl/hca; Rudy Robinson, kbds; Eddie Willis, g; Aaron Willis, g; Sam Witcher, g; South Memphis Horns; Roderick Chandler, bs; Curtis Sharp, dms. Detroit, Mi. 1972
39. Going down slow I & II
40. It's hard going up
41. My woman is good to me
42. You're spreading yourself a little too thin
43. The day you left me
44. You can be replaced
45. Do it right now
46. You made me strong
47. Sure is good
48. I want you

vendredi 15 mars 2019

CHARLES WALKER/ Complete Recordings

CHARLES WALKER: NEW YORK CITY BLUES

            


 Il y a eu plusieurs Charles Walker chanteurs de blues ou de Soul dont au moins deux sont en activité actuellement.
            Mais il n'y a eu qu'un bluesman newyorkais du nom de Charles Walker, un chanteur guitariste aujourd'hui bien oublié mais dont la musique, la personnalité chaleureuse et le réel charisme ont fortement marqué la scène du blues de New York durant les années 1950-70 et influencé quantité de jeunes musiciens.
            Charles Walker est né à Macon (Ga) le 26 juillet 1922 et a très jeune appris la musique avec son père, Freeman Walker, un bluesman localement renommé sous le nom de Boweavil. Mais, comme souvent, ce n'est qu'en immigrant vers le Nord (en l'occurence à Newark, New Jersey) que le jeune Charles a véritablement commencé une carrière de musicien. Il joue dans les clubs de Newark et sa réputation attire May McKay, une talent scout de New York, qui le présente aux frères Danny et Bobby Robinson. Charles enregistre en octobre 1956 l'instrumental Driving home, très dans le style guitaristique de l'époque, fort inspiré du Honky Tonk de Bill Doggett et Bill Jennings. Grâce à l'entregent des frères Robinson qui possèdent des circuits de distribution et de diffusion pour leurs productions, Driving home connaît un certain succès.
            Charles Walker forme alors un orchestre avec des musiciens newyorkais comme l'harmoniciste Danny Brown - qui prend le nom de B. Brown pour surfer sur le fort succès de Buster Brown auteur de classiques comme Fannie Mae - , le pianiste Lee Roy Little, le batteur Danny Q. Jones et souvent l'extraordinaire Wild Jimmy Spruill à la seconde guitare. Durant quelques années, Charles réussit à vivre ainsi de sa musique, jouant un peu partout dans les clubs de Harlem et du Bronx. En 1959, les frères Robinson ramènent Charles et son groupe dans les studios pour une excellente séance qui donne le classique Charles Walker Slop et It ain't right. Durant cette séance, Lee Roy Little grave aussi deux titres sous son nom.
            Mais le groupe se disperse peu après cette séance, chaque musicien tentant une carrière de son côté. Charles joue régulièrement dans les clubs avec de jeunes musiciens comme Larry Johnson. Mais il doit attendre trois ans pour retrouver le chemin des studios, cette fois pour le petit label Atlas et deux excellents 45t qui, malheureusement, sont mal distribués et passent d'autant plus inaperçus que le blues à New York (comme ailleurs) a de moins en moins les faveurs du public afro-américain. Charles trouve encore quelques engagements dans des clubs comme le Colonial House mais, lorsque celui-ci est ravagé par un incendie, Charles doit abandonner la musique pour pouvoir vivre décemment. En 1970, de graves difficultés personnelles (la mort de son épouse) le persuadent de tout vendre et quitter New York quand Bobby Robinson le contacte, une nouvelle scène du blues, animée essentiellement par de jeunes Blancs, émergeant à New York. Cela donne une longue séance d'enregistrement en compagnie de son protégé Larry Johnson à l'harmonica ou du guitariste Bob Malenky. Malheureusement, seuls deux titres (un 45t) dont You know it ain't right sont publiés et le reste de la séance demeure toujours enfoui quelque part dans les archives de Bobby Robinson. Quelques mois plus tard, Charles en compagnie de Bill Dicey, un harmoniciste de talent, grave un nouveau 45t pour l'obscur label P&P qui comprend une belle version très muddyesque de Forty days and forty nights.
            Bien que ces 45t ne rapportent rien à Walker, cela le pousse à rester à New York, lui permet de jouer ici et là en public. Et en 1974, le bassiste Tom Pomposello qui anime une émission de radio consacrée au blues et qui vient de fonder son label Oblivion, interviewe longuement Charles et lui permet d'enregistrer à nouveau plusieurs excellentes séances pour lesquelles Walker retrouve son ancien compagnon, le pianiste Lee Roy Little. Un album Blues from the apple qui résume toutes ces séances (avec d'autres chanteurs et musiciens que Charles Walker) vaut la peine d'être écouté.
            Hélas, les amateurs de blues des années 1970 ne sont intéressés que par les bluesmen de Chicago ou du Delta et l'album se vend très mal. Cela n'empêche pas Tom Pomposello d'essayer de promouvoir cet excellent bluesman de New York et de le faire tourner mais, atteint d'un cancer du poumon, Charles Walker décède le 24 juin 1975 à New York.
            Cette collection regroupe la totalité des enregistrements publiés par Charles Walker y compris l'ultra-rare Rock me mama (Fury) que notre ami Paul de Bruycker nous a fait parvenir plus récemment .
Merci aussi à notre ami Benoit Blue Boy pour avoir fourni les deux parties de Driving home et nous avoir fait entendre une autre version, très similaire, enregistrée par Paul Gayten à La Nouvelle Orléans quelques mois plus tard avec, cette fois, Edgar Blanchard à la guitare. Il y a aussi un autre Charles Walker - un musicien blanc de Nashville - qui a aussi enregistré ce titre mais d'une façon très différente, également en deux parties!
                                                                       Gérard HERZHAFT

            Among several Charles Walkers singing and playing blues and Soul, this particular Charles Walker was born july 26th 1922 in Macon, Georgia. His blues guitarist father Freeman was quite known in the neighborood joints under the moniker of Boweavil and taught his son how to sing and play the real downhome blues.
            Coming up north to find better opportunities in Newark (NJ) in the 1940's, Charles Walker started a full time musical career, playing in the local clubs and drawing the attention of talent scout May McKay who brought him into New York City studios to record for the Robinson brothers in 1956 his first 45, a driving instrumental a la Honky Tonk, Driving home. The record sold quite well, at least locally, and Charles formed a blues band with good musicians like harp player Danny B. Brown (not to be confused with Buster Brown who also recorded for Bobby Robinson), ace pianist Lee Roy Little and striking guitarist Wild Jimmy Spruill. In 1959, Charles recorded a new session with this band, waxing the classic instrumental Charles Walker's slop. Unfortunately, soon afterwards, all his musicians left him for trying personal careers. Nevertheless, Charles continued to play regularly in New York clubs, finding as sidemen young musicians like Larry Johnson. He had to wait three years to record again in 1963, a good session for the tiny Atlas label that unfortunately went nowhere.
Photo: Fred Seibert
            In New York, like everywhere in the USA, the blues was then considered out of fashion among the young African-Americans and, after the Colonial Club where Charles played regularly was destroyed by a fire plus several personal tragedies that plagued his life, Walker left off music completely.
            But in 1971, Bobby Robinson was aware that a new almost entirely young and white blues scene was emerging in New York City searching "real" bluesmen to learn from. He then persuaded Charles Walker to take his guitar again. Robinson then recorded a long session with Charles backed by Larry Johnson blowing the harmonica and Bob Malenky on guitar. Unfortunately, only two titles have been issued on a rare Fury 45 and the rest of the tracks still lay unissued somewhere in Robinson's vaults. The same year, and this time with Bill Dicey playing the harp, Charles recorded another 45 for the obscure P&P label with a good muddyesque version of 40 days and 40 nights.
            With the help of Dicey, Charles was able to play at some college venues, was interviewed by blues fan and bassist Tom Pomposello who held his own radio programme and his small Oblivion label. Tom persuaded Charles to record several new sessions with young sidemen plus old friend Lee Roy Little. Blues fromThe Apple is the complete album (with and without Charles) and deserves to be heard; although nobody paid any attention to it when it was issued.
            Tom tried very hard to promote Charles Walker on the international blues circuit. But on june 24, 1975, Charles died from a lung cancer.
            I feel it might be time to listen a little more carefully to this good true bluesman who gave much more than he received. This mp3 collection gathers all his records even the ultra rare Rock me mama (Fury) that Paul de Burycker has sent lately from hi extensive blues collection. Thanks a lot also to our good friend Benoit Blue Boy for providing the two parts of Driving home and pointing that the same title has been recorded some months after by New Orleans bandleader Paul Gayten, this time with Edgar Blanchard playing the guitar. And there is also another Charles Walker - probably a Country musician who has recorded a two-part Driving home which is very different from the Charles Walker's bluesy original.
                                                                       Gérard HERZHAFT






CHARLES WALKER/ Complete Recordings
Charles Walker, g; Wild Jimmy Spruill, g; Horace Cooper, pno; Mauerice Simon, t-sax; bs; dms. New York City, octobre 1956
01. Driving home Part I & II
Charles Walker, vcl/g; B. Brown, hca; Lee Roy Little, pno & vcl on*; Wild Jimmy Spruill, g; bs; Danny Q. Jones, dms. New York City, 1960
02. Charles Walker's slop
03. It ain't right
04. Your evil thoughts*
05. I'm a good man*
Charles Walker, vcl/g; Bubba Smith, pno; Henry Copeland, bs; "Peanuts", dms. New York City, juin 1963
06. Nervous wreck
07. Downhearted blues
Charles Walker, vcl/g; band. NewYork City, novembre 1963
08. Louise
09. Wrong kind of woman
Charles Walker, vcl/g; Larry Johnson, hca; Lee Roy Little, pno; Bob Malenky, g; Sonny Harden, bs; Bobby King, dms. New York City, mars 1971
10. You know it ain't right
11. Rock me mama
(about 20 titles recorded at that session by Bobby Robinson still unissued)
Charles Walker, vcl/g; Bill Dicey, hca; Bob Malenky, g; Bobby King, dms. New York City, décembre 1971
12. 40 days and 40 nights
13. My babe
Charles Walker, vcl/g; Larry Johnson, hca. New York City, 25 avril 1973
14. Decoration day
Charles Walker, vcl/g; Lee Roy Little, pno/vcl on *; Ann Yancey, g; Davis Lee Reitman, bs; Ola Mae Dixon, dms. New York City, 1 mai 1973
15. Meeting you
16. I'm a good man but a poor man*
Charles Walker, vcl/g; Bill Dicey, hca; Ann Yancey, g; Sonny Harden, bs; Ola Mae Dixon, dms. New York City, 29 juillet 1973
17. Gladly
Charles Walker, vcl/g; Bill Dicey, hca; Lee Roy Little, pno, Tom Pomposello, bs; Bobby King, dms. New York City, mai 1974
18. Juice head woman
19. Fast fast women and a slow racehorse

dimanche 10 mars 2019

LITTLE SONNY JONES/ Complete Recordings


LITTLE SONNY JONES/ Complete Recordings


           
Little Sonny Jones is certainly not a major and well known figure of the New Orleans R&B scene and his musical career never hit very high in charts but he has nevertheless recorded a nice amount of very good or even excellent tracks, strongly representative of the great New Orleans sound of the 1950's.
            Born Johnny Jones, 15th April 1931 in the Jane Alley section of New Orleans, he lived near Louis Armstrong's home and heard at a very early age pianist Little Brother Montgomery who had a regular spot around. He thus developed quite early in life a great interest for music and started to sing in his mother's Church choir when still a kid while he also sang at many famous New Orleans Saturday Night Fish Fries, those open parties with lots of food, drinks, music and revelry, a red kerosene lamp indicating which houses were hosting this very night!
            At the age of sixteen, Jones is taken under Fats Domino's wing who even gives him his "Little Sonny" nickname. For years (in fact until 1961), Little Sonny would open for Fats' shows as a warm-up act. This is probably thanks again to Fats that he starts his recording career in 1953 with a single for Specialty and the following year with two more for the Imperial label. Although very good, those records go nowhere and Little Sonny stays in Fats Domino's shadow while trying to launch a more personal career under the nickname Skinny Dynamo without more luck anyway. In 1961, tired to be just an opening act, he leaves Domino to join the Lastie Brothers, Dave and Melvin, singing in front of their band which is a favorite of New Orleans' clubs. Until 1968 when, completely disappointed by his lack of success in music, Little Sonny quits completely the music business to make a living on the more steady and secure sugar industry.

            In 1975, following a tip from Clarence Ford, Sonny is "rediscovered" by the Danish label CSA, specialized in recording New Orleans jazz and he waxes an LP with an array of first rate local R&B stalwarts. This excellent record will be later reissued twice on CD by Black Magic and Black Top. But once again the record doesn't open any door for Sonny who sticks to his daily job while singing regularly with the new Lastie Brothers' band, A Taste of New Orleans and appearing almost every year at the famous New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. I had the chance to watch his act and chat a little bit with him while in New Orleans in 1982 and I can tell that Little Sonny's big voice and showmanship were absolutely first rate.
            Unfortunately, Sonny Jones died at the early age of 58 from a heart attack at his New Orleans home on 17 December 1989.
            His complete recorded works are offered here for the first time, minus one elusive track (thanks by advance to anyone who would like to fill this gap) and show how a very nice R&B artist was the too neglected Little Sonny Jones.
            A lot of thanks to Xyros (Don't ask me...) and bopping blogs for providing me some rare early tracks. And thanks to Terry Pattison for his liner notes (on Sonny's LP) that I have been widely using over here.
                                                                       Gérard HERZHAFT

Little Sonny Jones (Johnny Jones), vcl; Salvador Doucette, pno; prob. Justin Adams, g; band. New Orleans, La. 1952
01. Do you really love me?
02. Is everything all right?
03. Got a gal in Nashville
04. Looked at the moon
Little Sonny Jones, vcl; Dave Bartholomew, tpt; Joe Harris, a-sax; Clarence Hall, t-sax; Clarence Ford, b-sax; Salvador Doucette, pno; Justin Adams, g; Frank Fields, bs; Earl Palmer, dms. New Orleans, La. 14 January 1954
05. Winehead baby
06. Tend to your business blues
07. Going back to the country
08. I got booted
Little Sonny Jones (as Skinny Dynamo), vcl; band. Miami, Fl. Augusr 1955
09. My baby is crying
10. You know this story
11. Baby baby mine
Can't you see
(Thanks to Mike Gray and Mike Kredinac)
Little Sonny Jones (as Skinny Dynamo), vcl; band. Crowley, La. December 1956
12. So long so long
13. Jingle bells
Little Sonny Jones, vcl; band. New Orleans, La. 1961
14. Give my heart back to me
15. Don't lie to me
Little Sonny Jones, vcl; band. New Orleans, 6-19 June 1967
16. Suffering
You got the power
Little Sonny Jones, vcl; Dave "Fat Man" Williams, pno; Dave Lastie, t-sax; Clarence Ford, t-sax; Justin Adams, g; Frank Fields, bs; Bob French, dms. New Orleans, La. 28 March 1975
17. I would if I could
18. Don't you hear me calling you?
19. Do you really love me baby?
20. Further up the road
21. Is everything allright?
Little Sonny Jones, vcl; Dave "Fat Man" Williams, pno; Justin Adams, g; Frank Fields, bs; Bob French, dms. New Orleans, La. 15 April 1975
22. I'm loaded
23. Certainly all
24. Worried blues
25. I called you baby