The James Cotton Band – Live & On The Move (1976)

FrontCover1James Henry Cotton (July 1, 1935 – March 16, 2017)[1] was an American blues harmonica player, singer and songwriter, who performed and recorded with many of the great blues artists of his time and with his own band. He played drums early in his career but is famous for his harmonica playing.
Cotton began his professional career playing the blues harp in Howlin’ Wolf’s band in the early 1950s.[3] He made his first recordings in Memphis for Sun Records, under the direction of Sam Phillips. In 1955, he was recruited by Muddy Waters to come to Chicago and join his band. Cotton became Waters’s bandleader and stayed with the group until 1965.[4] In 1965 he formed the Jimmy Cotton Blues Quartet, with Otis Spann on piano, to record between gigs with Waters’s band. He eventually left Waters to form his own full-time touring group. His first full album, on Verve Records, was produced by guitarist Mike Bloomfield and vocalist and songwriter Nick Gravenites, who later were members of the band Electric Flag.
In the 1970s, Cotton played harmonica on Waters’s Grammy Award–winning 1977 album Hard Again, produced by Johnny Winter.
Born in Tunica, Mississippi, Cotton became interested in music when he first heard Sonny Boy Williamson II on the radio. He left home with his uncle and moved to West Helena, Arkansas, finding Williamson there. For many years Cotton claimed that he told JamesCotton01Williamson that he was an orphan and that Williamson took him in and raised him, a story he admitted in recent years is not true. However, Williamson did mentor Cotton during his early years. Williamson left the South to live with his estranged wife in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, leaving his band in Cotton’s hands. Cotton was quoted as saying, “He just gave it to me. But I couldn’t hold it together ’cause I was too young and crazy in those days an’ everybody in the band was grown men, so much older than me.”

Cotton played drums early in his career but is famous for his harmonica playing. He began his professional career playing the blues harp in Howlin’ Wolf’s band in the early 1950s. He made his first recordings as a solo artist for Sun Records in Memphis in 1953. In 1954, he recorded an electric blues single “Cotton Crop Blues”, which featured a heavily distorted power chord–driven electric guitar solo by Pat Hare. Cotton began working with the Muddy Waters Band around 1955. He performed songs such as “Got My Mojo Working” and “She’s Nineteen Years Old”, although he did not play on the original recordings; Little Walter, Waters’s long-time harmonica player, played for most of Waters’s recording sessions in the 1950s. Cotton’s first recording session with Waters took place in June 1957, and he alternated with Little Walter on Waters’s recording sessions until the end of the decade.
In 1965 he formed the Jimmy Cotton Blues Quartet, with Otis Spann on piano, to record between gigs with Waters’s band. Their performances were captured by producer Samuel Charters on volume two of the Vanguard recording Chicago/The Blues/Today! After leaving Waters’s band in 1966, Cotton toured with Janis Joplin while pursuing a solo career. He formed the James Cotton Blues Band in 1967. The band mainly performed its own arrangements of popular blues and R&B from the 1950s and 1960s. Cotton’s band included a horn section, like that of Bobby Bland’s. After Bland’s death, his son told news media that Bland had recently discovered that Cotton was his half-brother.

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In the 1970s, Cotton recorded several albums for Buddah Records. He played harmonica on Waters’s Grammy Award–winning 1977 album Hard Again, produced by Johnny Winter. In the 1980s he recorded for Alligator Records in Chicago; he rejoined the Alligator roster in 2010. The James Cotton Blues Band received a Grammy nomination in 1984 for Live from Chicago: Mr. Superharp Himself!, on Alligator, and a second for his 1987 album Take Me Back, on Blind Pig Records. He was awarded a Grammy for Best Traditional Blues Album for Deep in the Blues in 1996. Cotton appeared on the cover of the July–August 1987 issue of Living Blues magazine (number 76). He was featured in the same publication’s 40th anniversary issue of August–September 2010.
In 2006, Cotton was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame at a ceremony conducted by the Blues Foundation in Memphis. He has won or shared ten Blues Music Awards.
Cotton battled throat cancer in the mid-1990s, but he continued to tour, using singers or his backing band members as vocalists. On March 10, 2008, Cotton and Ben Harper performed at the induction of Little Walter into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, playing “Juke” and “My Babe” together; the induction ceremony was broadcast nationwide on VH1 Classic. On August 30, 2010, Cotton was the special guest on Larry Monroe’s farewell broadcast of Blue Monday, which he hosted on KUT in Austin, Texas, for nearly 30 years.

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Cotton’s studio album Giant, released by Alligator Records in late September 2010, was nominated for a Grammy Award. His album Cotton Mouth Man, also on Alligator, released on May 7, 2013, was also a Grammy nominee. It includes guest appearances by Gregg Allman, Joe Bonamassa, Ruthie Foster, Delbert McClinton, Warren Haynes, Keb Mo, Chuck Leavell and Colin Linden. Cotton played harmonica on “Matches Don’t Burn Memories” on the debut album by the Dr. Izzy Band, Blind & Blues Bound, released in June 2013. In 2014, Cotton won a Blues Music Award for Traditional Male Blues Artist and was also nominated in the category Best Instrumentalist – Harmonica.
Cotton’s touring band includes guitarist and vocalist Tom Holland, vocalist Darrell Nulisch, bassist Noel Neal (brother of the blues guitarist and harmonica player Kenny Neal) and drummer Jerry Porter.

Cotton died at a medical center in Austin, Texas from pneumonia on March 16, 2017 at the age of 81.(by wikipedia)

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James Cotton, live 2015
I’m usually not a big fan of live recordings, but these mid-70’s recordings really catch the spirit of James Cotton “live & on the move”, while still in his prime! Sure, there may be sentimental reasons for my liking this disc {often caught Cotton during this period at the club where these recordings were made} but putting all sentimentality aside, I’ve gained a whole new level of appreciation for these cuts. Listening to these tracks with fresh aged ears {the first time in 20 some years} I can’t help but be impressed by Cotton and company’s tightness as a unit. A tough act to follow, there weren’t many shows rolling down the proverbial blues pike that packed as much punch as a James Cotton performance in it’s heyday, and these cuts certainly can attest to that. Cotton’s band, consisting of seasoned vets such as Matt “guitar” Murphy, know how to lay and hold down earthy funkified grooves, build energetic boogie’s, shuffle and swing without ever losing so much as a beat. If I had to criticize one thing, it would be Cotton’s choice of material. James Cotton had written some fine numbers while a recording artist for both the Sun and Vanguard labels, it’s too bad that he doesn’t showcase a few of them here. Instead, Cotton is content rekindling old chestnuts such as “Got My Mojo Working” and “Help Me”. What would a review of a James Cotton disc be without mentioning his harmonica playing? James Cotton shows why he’s earned the nickname “Mr. Superharp”, especially on tunes such as, “One More Mile”, “All Walks Of Life” and “Boogie Thang”, where the deep tonal qualities and grittiness of his harp work can be heard to full effect. A nice slice of what a James Cotton live show sounded like back in the 70’s, complimented by one of the tightest and hardest working bands in the blues biz, Recommended! (unknow amazon custiner)
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Recorded live in 1974 at the Shaboo Inn in Wlllimantic, Connecticut

Personnel:

Charles Calmese (bass)
James Cotton (harmonica, vocals)
George T. Gregory (saxophone)
Kenny Johnson (drums)
Matt Murphy (guitar)
Mike “Captain Z” Zaitchik (Keyboards)

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Tracklist:
01  Cotton Boogie (Cotton) 3.01
02. One More Mile (Cotton) 2.34
03. All Walks Of Life (Cotton) 2.22
04. Born In Missouri (Cobbs) 4.45
05. Flip Flop & Fly (Calhoun/Turner) 5.06
06  Mojo (Ervin) 4.15
07. Rocket 88 (Brenston) 2.27
08. Goodbye My Lady (Klingman/Smart II/Rundgren) 4.38
09. I Don’t Know (Mabon) 3.35
10. Caldonia (Moore) 5.11
11. Boogie Thing (Murphy) 4.50
12. Good Morning Lil’ Schoool Girl () 3.20
13  Oh Baby You Don’t Have To Go (Reed) 2.32
14. Help Me (Watson) 4.12
15. Fannie Mae () 4.03
16  Hot ‘N Cold (Toussaint) 3.59
17  Teeny Weeny Bit (Whitcomb) 2.48
18. Blow Wind Blow (Dickerson) 4.43
19. How Long Can A Fool Go Wrong (Cotton) 7.15
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20. Next Time You See Me (Forest/Harvey) 3.03
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James Henry Cotton (July 1, 1935 – March 16, 2017)

 

 

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Various Artists – Chicago Breakdown (1981)

frontcover1 Chicago Breakdown is a collection of blues recordings made in Chicago in the early 1060´s by Norman Dayron. It was recorded for the most, in the apartments or basements of the artists.

But sometimes the recordings werde made in small clubs on the South Side or the West Side. The feeling of the various sessions was always easy and natural. There was no sense of formality or self-importance. Only the sense of musicians and their friends trying to please each other. As such, these recordings are unusual and very personal.

They are also fine examples of the work of traditional blues artists who lived in Chicago at a time when electric band blues was the predominant sound of the city” (Noram Dayron; taken from the origianl liner notes).

And can not only fine black blues musicians from that time, but also young white blues freaks like Elvin Bishop, Mike Bloomfield and Paul Butterfield ! … Their first recordings I guess.

More about the great Norman Dayron will come very soon ..

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A blues bar in Chicago

Personnel:

Little Brother Montgomery:
Little Brother Montgomery (piano, vocals)

John Lee Granderson:
John Lee Granderson (vocals, guitar)

Dr. Isaiah Ross:
Dr. Isaiah Ross (vocals, guitar, harmonica)

Big Joe Williams:
Paul Butterfield (harmonica on 10.)
Big Joe Williams (vocals, guitar)

James Cotton:
Elvin Bisjop (guitar)
Paul Butterfield (harmonica)
James Cotton (vocals)

Maxwell Street Jimmy:
Maxwell Street Jimmy (vocals, guitar)

Little Brother Montgomery:
Michael Bloomfield (guitar)
Little Brother Montgomery (vocals, piano)

Eddie Boyd:
Eddie Boyd (vocals, piano)

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Tracklist:
01. Little Brother Montgomery: Hesitatin’ Blues 2.33
02. John Lee Granderson: Minglewood Town 1.38
03. Dr. Isaiah Ross: Chicago Breakdown 5.51
04. Big Joe Williams: I Feel So Worried 2.58
05. James Cotton: V-8 Ford Blues 3.50
06. Maxwell Street Jimmy: Cryin’ Won’t Make Me Stay 2.54
07. Little Brother Montgomery: Michigan Water Blues 3.35
08. John Lee Granderson: Good Morning Little Schoolgirl 2.48
09. Dr. Isaiah Ross: Hobo Blues 4.32
10. Big Joe Williams: Stack O’ Dollars 2.37
11. James Cotton: Polly Put The Kettle On 1.43
12. Eddie Boyd: Five Long Years 2.54

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