Al Kooper & Shuggie Otis – Kooper Session (1969)

LPFrontCover1.jpgKooper Session is the second-in-line of the Super Session albums featuring singer-songwriter Al Kooper. Joining Kooper in the guitar slot is 15-year-old phenomenon Shuggie Otis, son of legendary rhythm and blues pioneer Johnny Otis.

Divided into two halves, “The Songs” (a quartet of arranged gospel and rhythm and blues tracks) and “The Blues” (a trio of improvised blues tracks), the album, like Super Session before it, was quickly recorded and featured short, succinct tracks (“Double or Nothing”, “One Room Country Shack”) and fluid, drawn out jams highlighting the talents of the artists (“12:15 Slow Goonbash Blues”, “Bury My Body”). (by wikipedia)

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In 1969, producer, multi-instrumentalist, and vocalist Al Kooper added “talent scout” to his already lengthy résumé on the follow-up to the highly successful Super Session disc, which had been issued the previous year. One major difference between the two, however, is the relatively unknown cast featured on Kooper Session. Both albums again converge with the presentation of top-shelf musicianship and inspired performances. At only 15 years of age, guitarist Shuggie Otis is equally potent a performer as the seasoned keyboardist/guitarist Kooper. The duo is able to manifest an aggregate of material whose success leans as much on Kooper’s experience as it does on Otis’ sheer inspired youthful energy. The LP is divided between a side of shorter works (aka “songs”) and a few extended instrumentals (aka “blues”).

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Kooper and Otis steer their house band, which includes Stu Woods (bass), Wells Kelly (drums), and Mark Klingman (piano). The tight arrangements aptly reveal Kooper’s uncanny ability as a musical conduit. “Bury My Body” — a variation on “In My Time of Dyin'” — has been reworked into a gospel rave-up and features Kooper on one of the album’s only vocals. Conversely, “Double or Nothing” is a spot-on re-creation of a Booker T. & the MG’s track, which not only retains every Memphis-inspired intonation, but also shows off Otis’ ability to cop Steve Cropper’s guitar solo note for note. The blues instrumental jams are documented live and presented on this album the way that they originally went down at the recording sessions. The descriptively titled “Shuggie’s Old Time Dee-Di-Lee-Di-Leet-Deet Slide Boogie” is endowed with a nostalgic piano/bottleneck slide duet and even features the added production value of manufactured surface noise. Both “12:15 Slow Goonbash Blues” and “Shuggie’s Shuffle” are certainly no less traditional, allowing both Otis and Kooper the chance to stretch out and interact in real time. (by Lindsay Planer)

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Personnel:
Wells Kelly (drums)
Mark Klingman (piano)
Al Kooper (keyboards, vocals)
Shuggie Otis (guitar)
Stu Woods (bass)
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The Hilda Harris-Albertine Robinson Singers (background vocals)

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Tracklist:
01. Bury My Body (Kooper) 8.56
02. Double Or Nothing (Jones/Jackson, Jr./Cropper/Dunn) 2.27
03. One Room Country Shack (Walton) 3.36
04. Lookin’ For A Home (Forehand) 5.48
05. 12:15 Slow Goonbash Blues (Kooper/Otis) 9.29
06. Shuggie’s Old-Time (dee-di-lee-di-leet-deet) Slide Boogie (Kooper/Otis) 4.04
07. Shuggie’s Shuffle (Kooper/Otis) 6.25

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