Sat December 29, 2012
Marc On The Blues

Nine O'clock Blues: Wynton & Willie Sing The Blues

I could write about Wynton Marsalis for a month and still leave a lot out. The same can be said of Willie Nelson.

I’m going to skip the almost limitless credits and awards for each and cut to the association.

Both have a reputation for collaboration. Each has a long list of credits of guests on their own albums and performances and guest appearances on the shows and albums of others. It should come as no surprise to find them linking up.

On January 12th and 13th of 2007 Wynton and Nelson teamed up for concerts at Jazz at Lincoln Center in which they celebrated the Blues/Jazz/Country connection and demonstrated how the Blues has given birth to a large portion of the overall lexicon of American music.

The event was deceptively called Willie Nelson Sings the Blues, which ignores the fact that Wynton Marsalis and his group were a vital part of the event and also ignores the inclusion of Jazz standards along with some Jump-Blues standards.

For the most part the collaboration works quite well. It works well enough that I can recommend the disc despite the fact that, in my opinion, a couple of tracks fall well short of the mark. I was disappointed with the versions of “Stardust” and “Georgia on My Mind,” though clearly it isn’t fair to make comparisons to Frank Sinatra and Ray Charles. Willie Nelson’s voice is perfect for mellow Blues, but comes up a bit short on Jazz Standards.

I can still highly recommend Two Men With The Blues, especially due to the inclusion of “Basin Street Blues,” “Night Life,” “Bright Lights, Big City,” and “Rainy Day Blues” which more than make up for the couple of mediocre attempts.

Also on the show, we’ll hear two of my all-time favorite voices, Lydia Pense and Mose Allison.

Since 1968, San Francisco born Lydia Pense has been the primary singer for the group Cold Blood. Early in her musical life Lydia set out to emulate Brenda Lee but band mates in a group called The Dimensions convinced her to tackle the songs of James Brown, Chuck Berry, Fats Domino and Ray Charles. Thank heaven they did. Lydia’s voice has been favorably compared to Aretha Franklin, Teena Marie and Janis Joplin, who recommended Lydia and Cold Blood to Bill Graham who helped give the band their real start.

Although they may have been more in the background of modern music since their commercial success of the late 1960s and early 1970s, Cold Blood continues to record and perform and if they come to a venue near you, treat yourself. I know you’ll be delighted that you did.

I will not even attempt to detail the career of Mose Allison here. Google Mose and bring a lunch!!

What I will say is that I have loved his voice and piano since the very first time I heard him when I was in my pre-teens. Like so many, I am amazed that the Tippo, Mississippi, born country boy plays with such sophistication and urban urbanity.

There’s hardly any Mose Allison I’ve ever heard that I don’t highly recommend. Do yourself a favor, don’t miss him this week on the Nine O’clock Blues and track down anything else you can find. Could I be any more effusive? Tune in and find out why.


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