In my mind, I felt that this, my 400th review for JazzReview, was a personal milestone. Then this CD landed on my desk. My little milestone is dwarfed by this release by the 91-year-old Pinetop Perkins
. Pinetop has made a living playing the blues since 1926. Now that’s a milestone! Nine admiring and talented women surround Pinetop. I’m humbled again!
An original Mississippi bluesman, Perkins was born at Belzoni, MS in the year 1913. Starting on the guitar, he switched to piano after an injury made the execution of guitar passages quite painful. Under the tutelage of the legendary Clarence "Pinetop" Smith
, Willie Perkins composed Smith’s signature tune, "Pinetop’s Boogie Woogie" recorded by Vocalion in 1928. Smith died in 1929 and Willie Perkins took on the Pinetop
nickname in respect for his mentor.
Mention such respected names in blues as Chess Records
, King Biscuit Time
, Sun Records
, Muddy Waters
and they were part of Pinetop’s life. He is, in every sense, a living legend.
Recording executive, Mark Carpentieri, felt he had a valid idea in recording the "boogie man" in his ninety -first year. He "picked up the ball and ran with it." The veteran bluesman was recorded in the company of some of the brightest blues women on the scene today. Sessions took place in California, Memphis, New York and Ottawa, Canada. The result is a fabulous CD in every way.
Please check out the track listing below. I’ve listed the featured ladies beside each song. Elvin Bishop is the only male artist featured with Pinetop on this release. Bishop wails on How Long Blues
. If someone were to ask about my personal favorites on the CD, I would truly be hard-pressed for an answer. There isn't a single track that didn't merit "five stars." A sentimental favorite would be Since I Lost My Baby
because I love the old Ivory Joe Hunter classic. Then there’s the awesome power generated when Marcia Ball
joins Pinetop on Pinetop’s New Boogie Woogie
. Delicate artistry reigns when the veteran and Ann Rabson
pump out the perfect rendition of Careless Love
. They are all stars and are accompanied by some wonderful rhythm players. I’d like to mention that, although not given major billing on the cover, Lisa Otey
deserves special mention. Lisa is a gutsy, two fisted piano player who accompanies Pinetop’s vocals and also plays alongside the star on five tracks. Just listen to Kansas City
for a sample of Lisa’s exciting style.
Pinetop Perkins just has to be honored for this milestone recording. Let’s all keep an eye on the various blues awards next spring.