|Author and critic Philip Larkin|
We begin this new blues section of The Vintage Bandstand with a CD that features what, to my knowledge, is the only session that Earl Hines and Jimmy Rushing recorded together. Titled Blues & Things (New World Records, 1996), the album captures the Fatha and Mr. Five-by-Five in the studio in 1967 in the company of a Hines-led quartet comprising Budd Johnson on tenor and soprano saxophones, Bill Pemberton on bass, and Oliver Jackson on drums. This may well be one of the most obscure records of Jimmy Rushing's career, and that is perhaps because he is not actually the leader on this date, appearing mostly as a guest vocalist, and then not even on all tracks. But no matter, because this is a delightful album that finds all the participants in a very bluesy mood from start to finish. As Rushing takes his first "vocal chorus" (as the CD refers to his vocal contributions) on McHugh and Fields's "Exactly Like You," it becomes apparent that by the late 1960s his voice had not lost any of its energy, as he also demonstrates on "Am I Blue" and the closing track, a soulful rendition of W.C. Handy's "St. Louis Blues." One of the highlights of the album, though, is "Save It Pretty Mama," a good example of Rushing at his best on a slower number, aided by Hines's piano and some very beautiful sax playing from Johnson. The instrumental tracks showcase the tight sound of the best of the latter-day Hines quartets, a group of musicians that gigged together regularly and understood each other to perfection, as we can hear on standards such as "Summertime" and "Please Don't Talk About Me When I'm Gone," and particularly on "Changing of the Blues," a very bluesy Hines original. This is definitely a record that is well worth rediscovering.
|Joe Williams in the 1970s|