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Michael Bloomfield’s Groundbreaking Blues

By John Morthland, Contributor

For three or four decades now, perhaps the most influential electric guitarist in American popular music has been relegated to near-anonymity. Were he still alive, Michael Bloomfield presumably wouldn't have it any other way; for him, the music itself was always the only thing that really counted. But interest in Bloomfield's groundbreaking work has been escalating lately — his name seems to pop up more often than it used to, usually with musicians and fans… more »


Mike Cooper on Rescuing His Lost Classics

By Andy Beta, Contributor

Legend goes that a kid named Mick Jagger wanted to start a band with the young Mike Cooper in the '60s. When Cooper balked, Jagger instead recruited Brian Jones and started a blues-indebted band called the Rolling Stones instead. Mike Cooper's idiosyncratic path took him elsewhere. Now in his sixth decade of music-making, Cooper remains a gifted, prolific player. In June, the excellent Paradise of Bachelors label reissued a clutch of his crucial early-'70s albums:… more »


Re-Documenting the Blues

By John Morthland, Contributor

Austrian collector Johnny Parth launched Document Records in 1986 in order to reissue the complete works of early 20th-century American roots musicians, mostly blues artists. Document's modus operandi was simple: Pick an artist and reissue the total output on however many albums — or, later, CDs — it took. Less-recorded artists — Geechie Wiley, say — shared a single album with other names; the more prolific — like Peetie Wheatstraw — got considerably more (seven… more »

New + Noteworthy

Remembering Johnny Winter

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Allen Toussaint, Songbook

2013 | Label: New Rounder

Composer-pianist Allen Toussaint invented New Orleans rhythm-and-blues as much as anyone on the planet with his homespun songwriting, arranging and overall studio wizardry from the late 1950s onward — and true to the spirit of his Crescent City, it was expertise laced with amiability. Flooded out from his home by Hurricane Katrina, Toussaint relocated to New York City and began a regular gig at Joe’s Pub, which is where Songbook was recorded over two nights in 2009. The album captures the charm and sporadic magic of this odd interlude; Toussaint… more »

Cécile McLorin Salvant, WomanChild

2013 | Label: Mack Avenue Records / The Orchard

Few modern jazz debuts have been as audacious and confident as 23-year-old singer Cécile McLorin Salvant’s WomanChild. The climactic “What a Little Moonlight Can Do” builds, recedes and then builds some more, heading for the most dramatic high-note finish since Sir Richard Harris’s “MacArthur Park.” There are moments when it sounds like there are four or five singers trapped inside, fighting to come out at once. It’s thrilling, and a little over the top. It’d be too much if she couldn’t be subtle too, as on “I Didn’t Know… more »

Tedeschi Trucks Band, Made Up Mind

2013 | Label: Masterworks

An 11-piece troupe, co-founded by guitarist Derek Trucks and his wife singer-guitarist Susan Tedeschi, and fleshed out by a steely horn section, backup singers and a pair of percussionists, Tedeschi Trucks Band bills itself as a multi-part roots-rock collective. Like their supple, stellar 2011 debut, Revelator, Made Up Mind is still largely a platform for Trucks and Tedeschi to showcase their respective skills. The Dixie-funk that defined the band’s debut remains ever-present: Tedeschi lets her moan throw bricks upon the swampy, slinky grooves of “Misunderstood” and the barroom burner… more »

Dumpstaphunk, Dirty Word

2013 | Label: Louisiana Red Hot Records / Entertainment One Distribution

Dumpstaphunk started 10 years ago backing local hero and keyboard player Ivan Neville at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage festival, caught a breeze and never stopped. Though boasting two members of New Orleans first family (Art Neville’s son and Ivan’s cousin Ian plays guitar), Dirty Word has little in common with the elastic sound of the Neville family brand. It’s full-on homage to the funk and soul bands of the 1970s, the big bold bass lines and wily chants of arena acts like Parliament-Funkadelic, the Ohio Players, Cameo, and… more »