[116] James Booker – New Orleans Jazz Wizard Live

26 Jun

It seems that James Booker never played just one note on his piano when there were keys to either side there for the taking.


But to reduce New Orleans Jazz Wizard Live down to merely its technical merits does it a huge disservice.  Much as I discovered with Martha Argerich way back in the as it is quickly apparent that there is feel and nuance here to spare, elevated rather than shouldered aside by the incredible skill in execution.

Take even the very first track, “On The Sunny Side Of The Street”.

For two and a half minutes the piano jumps all around the familiar and pleasing melody, exploring and trilling, a sublime mixture of Jazz and Blues that I would be happy to listen to forever more.

Then, completely unlooked-for, Booker’s rich and textured vocals kick in, and the song and the album soar.

The pattern continues, with a vocal track followed by an instrumental, and throughout I have to keep reminding myself that there is only one instrument being played, not the whole damn orchestra which Booker somehow manages to suggest.

By my rough count and erratic memory, this is the fifth of 116 recordings to include one of my favorite songs, “Come Rain Or Come Shine”.  (4% for those tracking stats at home.)  It seems it may be a  favorite of Tom Moon’s, too.  This begs the chicken-and-egg question of whether such a great song makes an album it is on, or whether a great album frames the song and raises it to greater heights.

This version is respectful and contemplative, the vocals dripping with loss and longings past, the piano far more restrained than previous.  It moves me in that way that the best performances of the best songs do.

That the record moves directly from the polite applause of an audience unsure how to respond to this quiet highlight to the breakneck pace of an instrumental “Something Stupid” is the juxtaposition of a supremely confident showman.  The raucous response that the end of the latter song coaxes from the crowd is well-earned.

I love everything about all 37 minutes of this 9 track masterpiece.  Even the moments between songs.

Next Week:  Lo Borges – Lo Borges

Owned before blogging? No. (10 of 116 = 9%)
Heard before blogging? No. (17 of 116 = 15%)
Recommend? Yes. (95 of 116 = 82%)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


podcasts for the musically obsessed


Pop Culture Fashion since 2004.


Days in the life


My rants, outbursts and musings.

Every number one

Journey through all the songs that topped the charts

musicophilesblog - From Keith Jarrett to Johannes Brahms

Writing About and Reviewing Classical Music and Jazz

Leaves of Logan

Rants, reviews, rambles and a whole lot of books

Punk Rock Reviews

Reviewing Music

Team Distraction

Dicemasters Strategy

Kenza Moller

writing | editing | marketing

The Delinquent Diplomat

The Diplomacy Player's Blog Of Choice

Sampling Station

Tasty tunes, laughs, TV + film

The Immortal Jukebox

A Blog about Music and Popular Culture

Serious Thinks Thought Here

Grown Up Blogging Platform - Same Crappy Content

%d bloggers like this: