Alexis Andrew Nicholas Koerner (19 April 1928 – 1 January 1984), known professionally as Alexis Korner, was a British blues musician and radio broadcaster, who has sometimes been referred to as “a founding father of British blues”. A major influence on the sound of the British music scene in the 1960s, Korner was instrumental in the formation of several notable British bands including The Rolling Stones and Free.
After the war, Korner played piano and guitar (his first guitar was built by friend and author Sydney Hopkins, who wrote Mister God, This Is Anna) and in 1949 joined Chris Barber’s Jazz Band where he met blues harmonica player Cyril Davies. They started playing together as a duo, started the influential London Blues and Barrelhouse Club in 1955 and made their first record together in 1957. Korner made his first official record on Decca Records DFE 6286 in the company of Ken Colyer’s Skiffle Group. His talent extended to playing mandolin on one of the tracks of this rare British EP, recorded in London on 28 July 1955. Korner encouraged many American blues artists, previously virtually unknown in Britain, to perform at the London Blues and Barrelhouse Club, which he established with Davies at the Round House pub in Soho.
Alexis Korner’s Blues Incorporated, or simply Blues Incorporated, were an English blues band formed in London in 1961, led by Alexis Korner and including at various times Jack Bruce, Charlie Watts, Terry Cox, Davy Graham, Ginger Baker, Art Wood, Long John Baldry, Ronnie Jones, Danny Thompson, Graham Bond, Cyril Davies, Malcolm Cecil, Dick Heckstall-Smith and Mick Jagger.
Korner (1928–1984) was a member of Chris Barber’s Jazz Band in the 1950s, and met up with Cyril Davies (1932–1964) who shared his passion for American blues. In 1954 they teamed up as a duo, began playing blues in London jazz clubs, and opened their own club, the London Blues and Barrelhouse Club, where they featured visiting bluesmen from America. The club embraced aspiring young musicians, including in its early days Charlie Watts, Long John Baldry, and Jack Bruce.
In 1961 Korner and Davies formed Blues Incorporated, the first amplified R&B band in Britain, and brought in singer Baldry (sometimes replaced by Art Wood), drummer Watts, bassist Bruce, and saxophonist Dick Heckstall-Smith. It was an informal band: its membership was intended to be fluid.
On 17 March 1962, Korner and Davies established a regular “Rhythm and Blues Night” at the Ealing Jazz Club. This brought together many more fans of blues and R&B music including Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Brian Jones, Eric Clapton, Rod Stewart, Paul Jones, John Mayall, Zoot Money, and Jimmy Page, some of whom would occasionally sit in on Blues Incorporated performances. Watts left the group around this time to join the Rolling Stones and suggested Ginger Baker as his replacement.
From 3 May 1962, Blues Incorporated secured a Thursday-night residency at the Marquee Club, which brought them to the attention of record producer and promoter Jack Good who arranged a recording contract with Decca Records resulting in the LP R&B from the Marquee, released in late 1962. The album was actually recorded in the Decca studio and featured Baldry as lead singer with songs by Muddy Waters, Jimmy Witherspoon and Leroy Carr.
Late in 1962 Davies disagreed with Korner’s intention to add a brass section to the band and turn more towards jazz than blues, so left to form his own group, the Cyril Davies All-Stars, and was replaced by Graham Bond. Blues Incorporated found a new residency at the Flamingo club but, shortly afterwards, Bond, Bruce and Baker left to form the Graham Bond Organisation.
Blues Incorporated concentrated on live work rather than recording and the group only released two singles on Parlophone, “I Need Your Loving” / “Please Please Please Please” (1964) and “Little Baby” / “Roberta” (1965). In 1964 they released the LPs At The Cavern and Red Hot From Alex, with American Herbie Goins as lead singer and Danny Thompson, later of Pentangle, on bass. By the time of the group’s last album Sky High (credited to Alexis Korner’s Blues Incorporated) in 1965, the group included Duffy Power on vocals. Korner dissolved the group in 1966. (wikipedia)
And here´s his second album with his Blues Incorporated:
One of Alexis Korner’s better and more obscure albums, Red Hot From Alex, features the 1964 version of Blues Incorporated, supported by alumnus Dick Heckstall-Smith on tenor sax on a handful of tracks, recreating their live sound in the studio. The results are reasonably successful, the group at times achieving a fairly intense, swinging ensemble sound that, at its best, carries an infectious level of excitement. This band’s sound is a lot slicker throughout than that of the version of Blues Incorporated that played the Marquee Club in 1962 and 1963 and left behind the album R&B From The Marquee. The opener, “Woke Up This Morning,” has a convincingly funky sound, driven by Herbie Goins’ vocals, and a fairly together rhythm section, though Dave Castle’s alto sax seems a little too lightweight to pull off the authenticity. The group leaps back to somewhat purer blues on “Skippin’,” featuring Heckstall-Smith’s tenor, Korner playing some suitably animated rhythm guitar, and Ron Edgeworth aggressively attacking his organ. The first minute of “Herbie’s Tune” offers a great showcase for Korner’s guitar, soon joined by Heckstall-Smith’s sax, and Edgeworth’s organ, while “Stormy Monday” throws a flute into an otherwise similar mix — one can easily imagine Brian Jones dueting with Korner on those cuts.
The only real flaw in the album, apart from an over-reliance on jazz at the expense of blues, is the lack of any real charismatic presence within the band, vocally or instrumentally — “Stormy Monday” shows off the group to best advantage, with Korner in the spotlight playing some of the flashiest and most compelling blues licks of his career, and if the album could have had a few more tracks like that, it just might have found an audience not far from the listenership that John Mayall and Graham Bond were cultivating; a little too much of what surrounds the blues here, however, is significantly less exciting jazz, played well enough, but otherwise not really terribly diverting — “Roberta,” “It’s Happening,” and “Jones” probably went over big at the group’s club dates, but just don’t make for great moments on record, and Korner’s own “Cabbage Greens,” showcasing his low-wattage guitar pyrotechnics (which just might prove refreshing to those weary of, or only versed in, the Jimi Hendrix/Jimmy Page school of blues guitar) and Edgeworth’s organ playing, isn’t much more interesting. “Chicken Shack” is the track that best captures the group’s sound at its most engaging, and the album is a welcome document of their work, but it’s more of a historic curio than an essential acquisition, on a musical par with, say, John Mayall Plays John Mayall. (by Bruce Eder)
Dave Castle (saxophone)
Ron Edgeworth (keyboards)
Barry Howten (drums)
Alexis Korner (guitar)
Art Theman (saxophone)
Danny Thompson (bass)
Herbie Goins (vocals, percussion on 01., 04.,- 06. + 10.)
Dick Heckstall-Smith (saxophone on 02., 03. + 09.)
A German reissue:
01. Woke Up This Morning (King) 2.37
02. Skippin’ (Korner) 2.14
03. Herbie’s Tune (Korner) 4.00
04. Stormy Monday (Walker) 4.40
05. It’s Happening (Bond) 2.06
06. Roberta (Koprner) 2.26
07. Jones (Terry/Ellington) 3.52
08. Cabbage Greens (Korner) 2.10
09. Chicken Shack (Smith) 2.01
10. Haitian Fight Song (Mingus) 3.32
More from Alexis Korner: