Joanna Connor – Rock And Roll Gypsy (1995)

FrontCover1.jpgWhat sets Joanna Connor apart from the rest of the pack of guitar-playing female blues singers is her skill on the instrument. Even though Connor has become an accomplished singer over time, her first love was guitar playing, and it shows in her live shows and on her recordings.

Brooklyn-born, Massachusetts-raised Joanna Connor was drawn to the Chicago blues scene like a bee to a half-full soda can. Connor, a fiery guitarist raised in the 1970s — when rock & roll was all over the mass media — just wanted to play blues. She was born August 31, 1962, in Brooklyn, N.Y., and raised by her mother in Worcester, MA. She benefitted from her mother’s huge collection of blues and jazz recordings, and a young Connor was taken to see people like Taj Mahal, Bonnie Raitt, Ry Cooder and Buddy Guy in concert.

Connor got her first guitar at age seven. When she was 16, she began singing in Worcester-area bands, and when she was 22, she moved to Chicago. Soon after her arrival in 1984, she began sitting in with Chicago regulars like James Cotton, Junior Wells, Buddy Guy and A.C. Reed. She hooked up with Johnny Littlejohn’s group for a short time before being asked by Dion Payton to join his 43rd Street Blues Band. She performed with Payton at the 1987 Chicago Blues Festival. Later that year, she was ready to put her own band together.

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Her 1989 debut for the Blind Pig label, Believe It!, got her out of Chicago clubs and into clubs and festivals around the U.S., Canada and Europe. Her other albums include 1992’s Fight for Blind Pig (the title track a Luther Allison tune), Living on the Road (1993) and Rock and Roll Gypsy (1995), the latter two for the Ruf Records label. Slidetime on Blind Pig followed in 1998 and Nothing But the Blues, a live recording of a 1999 show in Germany, appeared on the German Inakustik label in 2001. Connor left Blind Pig and signed to small indie label M.C. in 2002. Her first release for her new label, The Joanna Connor Band, finds Connor expanding her sound a bit in an attempt to reach a more mainstream audience.

Connor has blossomed into a gifted blues songwriter. Her songwriting talents, strongly influenced by greats like Luther Allison, will insure that she stays in the blues spotlight for years to come. (by Richard Skelly)

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And here´s her second album for the German label Ruf Records and it´s a down to earth album, raw, old time blues with some fine Gospel and soul elements. Good for the soul and mind.

This album included a fine version of “Fire” by Jimi Hendrix and a guest appearance of Luther Allison.

And we can hear this superb slide-guitar by one of the finest Blues ladies from the last decades.

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Personnel:
Joanna Connor (guitar, slide-guitar, vocals)
Stan Mixon (bass)
Larry Ortega (drums, percussion)
Tony Palmer (guitar)
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Luther Allison (guitar, vocals on 04.)
Johann Janssen (pedal steel-guitar)
Buzz Killman (harmonica)
Frank Niedlander (saxophone)
Roel Spanjers (keyboards)
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background vocals:
Andrea Variames – Bertram Brown – William Brown

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Tracklist:
01. Never Been Rocked Enough (McClinton/Seals) 3.27
02. Rock & Roll Gypsy (Connor) 4.04
03. Howlin’ (Traditional) 3.55
04. Slipping Away (Allison) 5.26
05. Rain On My Window (Walker) 4.53
06. Think About Me (Seay/Derek) 5.13
07. Driving Wheel (Sykes) 3.47
08. You’re So Fine (Connor/Rogers) 5.08
09. Fire (Hendrix) 2.52
10. You’re Going With Me (Pomus) 5.04
11. Child Of Two Worlds (Connor) 3.29

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Buck Clayton – How Hi The Fi (1954)

FrontCover1.jpgA cornerstone of jazz culture has been the jam sessions. Many groups (regardless of stature) that appeared in the same town concurrently gathered for late-night, jam festivities. Amid the aura of improvisation and camaraderie, legends (and future legends) refined their craft as soloists and ensemble performers. Unfortunately, the results of these collaborations were rarely preserved on vinyl (adding to the legend). But in the early fifties, Columbia Records captured all-star glory with its Buck Clayton jam catalog. Now, Pure Pleasure Records has re-mastered How Hi The Fi to 180-gram vinyl.

Following the success of Buck’s first jam session, Huckle-Buck And Robbins’ Nest (Columbia CL 548), producer George Avakian (with the help of John Hammond) Buck Clayton02assembled a veteran cadre of musicians. Many of these players were part of Count Basie’s band and the group dynamics are present. A last-minute surprise addition (on two sides) was clarinetist Woody Herman, in town on his way to Europe. How High The Fi was recorded in two dates, with an emphasis on spontaneity.

Pure Pleasure Records has brought this mono fidelity session to life on 180-gram vinyl. The original, meticulous engineering sounds flawless. The instrumentation (both individual and combined) is pristine in clarity and mixing. All of the horns and reeds sound great, without a trace of shrillness. The reproduction of the original gatefold is top-notch (including the plug for Columbia needles). [Interesting how the audiophile vinyl reissues often look so much like the original LP release (if someone has it) that even the name of the repressing label doesn’t appear anywhere, even on the vinyl’s center label…Ed.] How Hi The Fi is jazz at its best! (audaud.com)

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Personnel:
Buck Clayton (trumpet on 03. + 04.)
Al Cohn (saxophone on 01. + 02.)
Julian Dash (saxophone)
Lem Davis (saxophone)
Charlie Fowlkes (saxophone on 03. + 04.)
Freddy Green (guitar on 03. + 04.)
Urbie Green (trombone)
Woody Herman (clarinet on 01 – 02.)
Jimmy Jones (piano on 01. + 02.)
Jo Jones (drums)
Steve Jordan (guitar on 01. + 02.)
Joe Newman (trumpet on 03. + 04.)
Walter Page (bass)
Benny Powell (trombone on 03. + 04.)
Joe Thomas (trumpet on 01. + 02.)
Sir Charles Thompson (piano on 03. + 04.)
Trummy Young (trombone on 01. + 02)

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Tracklist:
01. How Hi The Fi (Clayton) 13.50
02. Blue Moon (Hart/Rodgers) 14.11
03. Sentimental Journey (Green/Brown/Homer) 13.47
04. Moten Swing (Moten) 12.47

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Wilbur Dorsey “Buck” Clayton (November 12, 1911 – December 8, 1991)