At first glance, a CD entitled Back to Back by Mr. B (Mark Lincoln Braun) and Bob Seeley would appear to be nothing more than a mirror image of tunes recorded by two artists side by side. On the other hand, the 14-track release with two additional bonus tracks contains a surprisingly different revelation. To be specific, the album examines two diversely different approaches to a style of blues known as the boogie-woogie. As pianists, both musicians are categorized as practitioners of an endangered art form, one that is gradually becoming extinct.
For many, boogie-woogie is best described as a piano-based style that was most prevalent during the late 1930s and early 1940s. Unlike the blues, which is influenced by sadness and woe, boogie-woogie is more attuned to dancing and good times. With the release of Back to Back, Mr. B and Bob Seeley have chosen classic tunes that once defined a generation.
Tracks such as "St. Louis Blues," "The Honeydripper," "After Hours" and "Cow Cow Blues" are treated with historic reverence, only to be augmented by two unique musical styles of play. The texture and flow of the two pianists are strategically different; however, their texturized message continues down a path previously established by some of the genres best artists. Whereas Mr. B’s artistic style applies a high-end energy to Back to Back, Bob Seeley goes the other way with a "classic straight-up" approach. Either way, the two artists collectively have recorded an album that is truly reminiscent of a bygone era.
Back to Back is a beautifully crafted journey into one of the most exciting periods of the 20th century. As prominent practitioners of an endangered art form, Braun and Seeley answer one another with a voice that captures the composer’s impressionistic intent, while also exposing the listening public to a style of blues etched in tradition. Tracks by such notable blues and jazz legends as Duke Ellington, Jelly Roll Morton, W.C. Handy, Avery Parish, Cow Cow Davenport and Clarence "Pine Top" Smith have been reexamined. The approach now focuses upon two modern day practitioners profiling a historically significant art form. Both Mr. B and Bob Seeley have recorded an album steeped in tradition, one that bodes well to the legacy of some of the finest musicians in blues history.