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Friday, May 30, 2008

Delmark Records Update

Hey Friends of Delmark!

DELMARK DOINGS Spring into Summer 2008

In its 55th year, Delmark Records’ release schedule is as busy as ever, with four recent Spring releases hitting the blues and jazz market
(Dave Specter, Mississippi Heat, Jason Ajemian’s Smokeless Heat, and Wally Rose) along with four new highly anticipated summer releases on the way- Byther Smith's first live CD and DVD (w/ Jimmy Burns' band), rising jazz star and trumpet phenom Corey Wilkes' debut as a leader (!), never before released '66 stride piano duets from Willie “The Lion” Smith & Don Ewell, and a '81 swingin' Chicago jazz session from Cy Touff (bass trumpet) & Sandy Mosse (Tenor sax).

Four new Delmark Releases - (Street Date June 17, 2008)

1) Byther Smith Blues On The Moon, Live at the Natural Rhythm Social Club (Delmark DVD 1796, CD DE 796)
- First live album from the most intense Chicago bluesman around! Hell no, he’s not retired!! This slashing guitarist, menacing vocalist, and original songwriter is still in prime form, despite false rumors of retirement. “Blues on the Moon” (DVD 1796/DE 796) was captured Live at the Natural Rhythm Social Club on Chicago’s South side from last summer with Jimmy Burns’ fantastic backing band and is Byther’s first live album.

Byther Smith is a fighter, a scrapper, a hard worker and a survivor. As a child in Monticello, Mississippi he lost both his parents; his mother when he was one year old and his father six months later. Shipped off to Arizona as a young man, Smitty took up boxing in part to deal with the pain. "I had 69 amateur fights and I only lost one." Smitty came to Chicago in the mid-’50s and by the early ’60s was playing at Theresa's Lounge, where he backed Junior Wells. He also worked with Big Mama Thornton, George "Harmonica" Smith and Otis Rush. He recorded his first LP for the Grits label in 1983, two for Bullseye in the early ’90s, and this is his fourth Delmark CD - his first live album. DVD contains one bonus track and Byther Smith commentary special feature.
(Also available: Mississippi Kid (Delmark 691), All Night Long (Delmark 708), Hold That Train (Delmark 774), Junior Wells, Live at Theresa's 1975 (Delmark 787))

2) Corey Wilkes Drop It (Delmark DE 582)
We’re very excited to announce the debut recording as a leader from Chicago jazz trumpet phenom Corey Wilkes, “Drop It” (DE 582) This hotly anticipated release features the diverse original repertoire of the charismatic young Corey- “it’s imbued with the blues, infused with the rhythmic primacy of hip hop, incorporating the poignancy of poetry, and it utilizes the improvisation of jazz, thus taking the music out of its normal stylistic boundaries to create something unique and original.” This Riverside studio recording (with an additional live title track) also features the talented keyboard work of Robert “Baabe” Irving and the beautiful vocals from Dee Alexander.

Jazz trumpeter Corey Wilkes burst on the Chicago jazz scene in 2002. Corey took on the ghost of Lester Bowie and filled the vacant seat in the Art Ensemble of Chicago. Big shoes to fill for a new musician but Corey isn't an ordinary musician. He began at the age of 10, made the Illinois All State Honors Jazz Combo in high school and honed his talent at Berklee College of Music. His soulful notes can be heard gracing a variety of projects such as DJ sets by DJ Logic, Osunlade and Josh Deep; tracks on Hidden Beach's Unwrapped Vol. 4, also recorded with Roscoe Mitchell, Art Ensemble, Tortoise, Ernest Dawkins, Nicole Mitchell and Ethnic Heritage Ensemble's Hot ’N’ Heavy (Delmark DVD 1574, CD DE 574). With Chelsea Baratz, tenor sax; Jabari Liu, alto sax; Robert "Baabe" Irving III, piano and Fender Rhodes; Junius Paul, bass; Jeremy "Bean" Clemmons, drums. Drop It is Corey's debut CD as leader.

3) Cy Touff & Sandy Mosse Tickle Toe (Delmark DE 583)
A long awaited swingin’ session from 1981 from Chicago jazz heavies Cy Touff and Sandy Mosse.

One of the few bass trumpet specialists in jazz history, Cy Touff (1927-2003) was a fixture in Chicago for decades. Touff recorded albums for Pacific Jazz and Chess' Argo in the ’50s. He worked in the studios, performed in clubs and recorded with Chubby Jackson and Lorez Alexandria in 1957, and with the group Hyde Park After Dark in 1981. Tenor saxophonist Sandy Mosse (1929-1983) was born in Detroit but spent much of his American playing time in Chicago. He moved to Paris at age 22 and recorded historical sides in the bands of Henri Renaud and Django Rheinhardt. He returned to Chicago in ’55 and recorded for Argo. Touff and Mosse co-led an octet in the late ’50s/early ’60s called Pieces of Eight. Mosse relocated to Amsterdam in the late ’70s where he spent his last years. Tickle Toe is a swinging 1981 date with John Campbell (piano), Kelly Sill (bass) and Jerry Coleman (drums).

4) Willie "The Lion" Smith & Don Ewell Stride Piano Duets, Live in Toronto 1966 (Delmark DE 249)
Early jazz fanatics will rejoice with a never before released live duet recording from 1966 from 2 legendary stride pianists, Willie “The Lion” Smith and Don Ewell, “ Sophisticated and rollicking piano instrumental duets!

Willie "The Lion" Smith in the 1920s was considered one of the big three of stride piano, along with James P. Johnson and Fats Waller. He was an influence on the young Duke Ellington. Although he was a braggart (with his cigar and trademark derby hat) and appeared to be a rough character, Smith was actually more colorful than menacing, and a very sophisticated pianist. Because he remained active into the early '70s, Willie "The Lion" Smith was considered a living link to the glory days of early jazz. A major if underrated pianist, Don Ewell was inspired by Jelly Roll Morton and Earl Hines, but could stride like Fats Waller, too. Ewell started leading his own trios in Baltimore in the mid-'30s; played during the New Orleans jazz revival (starting in the mid-'40s) with Bunk Johnson, Muggsy Spanier, Sidney Bechet, and Kid Ory (1953) and was with Jack Teagarden during 1957-1964. Ewell sometimes played duets with Willie "The Lion" Smith in the late '60s before moving to New Orleans, where he worked regularly during his last years. This 1966 date, recorded live at the Golden Nugget in Toronto, features duets by the two piano legends, and has never before been issued!
(Also available: George Lewis & Don Ewell, Reunion (Delmark 220), Dewey Jackson, Live at the Barrel 1952 with Don Ewell (Delmark 245)).

Recent Delmark Releases from the Spring, 2008

1) Dave Specter, Live in Chicago, on Delmark DVD- 1794 and CD - DE 794, with special guests Jimmy Johnson, Tad Robinson, and Sharon Lewis - , ,
We are thrilled with the return of outstanding blues guitarist Dave Specter to Delmark recording activity. “Live In Chicago” (DVD 1794/DE 794) is a “all-star blues/funk/soul revue” with special guests vocalists Tad “Mr. Soul/Blues” Robinson, the ageless Jimmy “The Bar Room Preacher” Johnson, and Sharon “The Texas Fire” Lewis each showcasing their unique talents while Specter lays down his deep blues/jazz guitar grooves. I challenge anyone to name another 79 year old who can play a more fluid and funky guitar than the legendary Jimmy Johnson! We just celebrated Specter’s new release with two CD/DVD release parties: one at Buddy Guy’s Legends (where Buddy Guy sat in with Dave and the supremely funky and soulful Jimmy Johnson) and one at Specter’s new music club in Evanston, S.P.A.C.E. Fantastic vocalists Tad Robinson (“What’s Your Angle?”) and Sharon Lewis (“Angel”) performed knock out sets both nights with Specter’s excellent band - Brother John Kattke (w/ Pete Benson at SPACE) (keys), Harlon Terson (bass) and Marty Binder (drums)

2) MISSISSIPPI HEAT, Hattiesburg Blues, (Delmark CD - DE 795), with special guests Lurrie Bell and Carl Weathersby - , , ,
Fantastic harp player/bandleader Pierre Lacocque and Mississippi Heat also return with their 2nd release on Delmark; this is a new ambitious studio CD and their best yet! “Hattiesburg Blues” (DE 795) features their dynamic lead vocalist Inetta Visor "Tiger Man", and Chicago blues guitar legends Lurrie Bell (“Chicago is My Home” should be a new Chicago blues anthem!) and Carl Weathersby ("Hell and Back"), along with relative newcomer Giles Corey (check out his catchy and funky "Say Something Good!") . The always reliable drummer Kenny "Beedy Eyes" Smith, The Chicago Horns, latin pecussionist Ruben Alvarez, and funky clavinet/keys from Chris "Hambone" Cameron also add significantly to this varied disc of almost all new original compositions from Pierre. You can listen to sound samples of this at

**DELMARK CD release party for Mississippi Heat's "Hattiesburg Blues"
FRIDAY, MAY 30TH, BUDDY GUY'S LEGENDS with special guest Carl Weathersby!! 754 S. Wabash, @10pm

3) JASON AJEMIAN’s Smokeless Heat, The Art of Dying (DE 581)
We are proud to release the Delmark debut recording as a leader of bassist Jason Ajemian (Chicago Underground Trio) and Smokeless Heat, saxophonist Tim Haldeman, and drummer Nori Tanaka. Ajemian and this inventive group of creative jazz players from the prolific Chicago scene recorded “The Art of Dying” (DE 581) with vibist Jason Adasiewicz, trumpeter Jaimie Branch, and guitarist Matt Schneider. This is a wonderful example of a recording that will appeal to both avant-garde and straight ahead jazz lovers.
“From gorgeous ballads and ethereal tone poems to simmering blues and angular post bop, the rotating line-up handles each style with utter conviction and carefree conversational acumen. Another brilliant document verifying Chicago's ancient to the future jazz aesthetic, The Art of Dying is a vibrant example of what lies ahead.” All About Jazz

4) WALLY ROSE - Whippin’ The Keys (DE 248)
Rounding out our first of 2008 Spring releases is “Whippin’ The Keys” (DE 248), a masterful ragtime piano solo session from influential Bay Area Trad Jazz pianist Wally Rose. These 20 selections were originally on two Blackbird LPs from 1968 and 1971 and reissued here for the first time.

To kick off the summer festival season, many Delmark recording artists will be performing at the 25th annual Chicago Blues Festival; Jimmy Burns, Big Time Sarah, Lurrie Bell, Jimmy Johnson, Karen Carroll, Charles Wilson, Eddy Clearwater, Magic Slim, Lonnie Brooks, Aron Burton, Little Arthur’s Backscratchers, Sharon Lewis, Inetta Visor, Billy Branch, Plas Johnson, and more.
Mississippi Heat (Pierre LaCocque and Inetta Visor) will also be performing for Delmark’s annual Blues Brunch at Jazz Record Mart Sunday morning (June 8, 10:30am) before you head off to the Fest! Don’t miss the post Blues Fest night activities with some amazing shows for you to choose from, including shows at Dave Specter’s new club in Evanston ( S.P.A.C.E.) with Specter, Jimmy Burns, Jimmy and Syl Johnson all headlining, along with a near South side gig at Reggie’s Rock club with Tail Dragger, Byther Smith, and more!

Don’t miss the post Blues Fest night activities with some amazing shows for you to choose from, including Delmark related shows at Dave Specter’s new club in Evanston ( S.P.A.C.E.) with Specter, Jimmy Burns, Jimmy and Syl Johnson all headlining, along with a near South side gig at Reggie’s Rock club with Tail Dragger, Byther Smith, and more!

SPACE 1st Annual Blues Festival!
June 4th - June 7th, 2008, 1245 Chicago Ave, Evanston- 847-492-8860

-Wednesday June 4th: "Blues on the North Shore" with David "Honeyboy" Edwards, Eddy Clearwater, Barrelhouse Chuck & special guests. A Tribute to Chicago/Delta blues legend & 2008 Grammy Award winner David 'Honeyboy' Edwards. A celebration of his life, legacy and music. 8:00pm $25

-Thursday June 5th: Jimmy Johnson & Dave Specter
The legendary Bar Room Preacher meets Specter and his soulful, blues-drenched guitar. Featured together at Millennium Park and on Specter's "Live in Chicago" DVD & CD on Delmark Records. 9:00pm $10

-Friday June 6th: Jimmy Burns
Jimmy Burns' musical resume reads like a history of blues and R&B from the last fifty years - a charismatic performer with an expressive, soulful voice and a melodic guitar style to match. 9:30pm $10

-Saturday June 7th: Syl Johnson with Morris Jennings and Bernard Reed
Syl Johnson is one of the unsung heroes of Black American popular music and is a triple threat legend in blues and soul; he's a gritty blues harp man, a stellar R&B/Blues guitarist, and most importantly, one of the finest soul singers on the planet. 9:30pm $20

**Fri, Sat, June 6, 7 2008- post CHICAGO BLUES FESTIVAL - American Blues Legends Revue @ Reggie’s Music Joint
2105 S. State Street, CHICAGO, Illinois 60616, $15, 312-949-0120.
American Blues Legends Management Presents - Heroes of Chicago Blues All-Star Blues Festival Performance - Hosted by guitarists Rick Kreher and Cadillac Zack. Performances by Jody Williams, Eddie C. Campbell, Elmore James, Jr., Byther Smith, Tail Dragger, and many special guests!!!! DO NOT MISS this- this is the real deal shit, y’all!

Byther Smith and Lurrie Bell will both also be wowing the crowds at the prestigious Poconos Blues Fest at the end of July, and versatile bluesman and entertainer supreme Jimmy Burns returns to the one of a kind Sunflower Blues Fest in Clarksdale, Mississippi in August. Bay area guitar master Steve Freund was just booked for the famous Lucerne Blues Festival in Switzerland in November.

Tail Dragger Stomps the Ponderosa!

7th annual Ponderosa Stomp Music Festival in New Orleans, April 29, 30, 2008 ,

What, you’ve never heard of the Ponderosa Stomp? Dr. Ike and the Mystic Knights of the Mau Mau from New Orleans have put together one of the most talked about music fests in the world today. Now in its seventh year, the Ponderosa Stomp “is an American Roots music festival dedicated to recognizing the architects of rock-n- roll, blues, jazz, country, swamp pop, and soul.” You will not find another insane music lineup like this funky fest: a colorful cast of alive and (mostly) well characters from our favorite records, predominately from the 50’s and 60’s. Unsung musical heroes, overlooked sideman, almost forgotten one-hit wonders, screamers, shouters, pleaders, testifiers, pickers, horn blowers, piano pounders, and behind the scene makers are all found on stage and shaking their tail feathers and money makers on the dance floor at the Stomp in New Orleans!
There are so many acts I would love to mention, but of course I was especially excited this year as two of our favorite Delmark recording artists were performing! The infamous Tail Dragger, aka Crawlin’ James, the best Howlin’ Wolf influenced entertainer/singer on the planet, along with Syl Johnson, who possesses one of soul music’s greatest all-time voices, were both huge hits and performed some of the most talked about sets at this year’s 2 day Stomp.
Tail Dragger headlined Night #1 of the Stomp (2-3 am slot!) and had the faithful and converted smiling and grooving with his lowdown and gritty blues preaching, along with his floor stalking and in your face growl and prowl. The New York Times even wrote a glowing review of the Stomp and mentions our Tail Dragger! “The Tail Dragger, a Chicago bluesman in a suit and cowboy hat, glared balefully as he sang about woman trouble with a growl worthy of Howlin’ Wolf!” Our Chicago friends guitarists Rick Kreher (Little Arthur Duncan’s guitarist) and Rockin’ Billy (who also backed Chicago area Sun rockabilly legend Hayden Thompson’s set), and drummer Twist Turner were Dragger’s fantastic backing band, along with Memphis’ Bo-Keys bassist Scott Bomar (who produced the great soundtrack to Black Snake Moan!) Rick Kreher was particularly inspiring on guitar, having to be heard over the overly busy harp playing of New Orleans character/motor mouth J. Monque’D. Kreher even channeled some deep Muddy Waters slide guitar; I guess not surprising since Rick was Muddy’s guitarist for over 5 years at the end of his career.
Syl “Is It Because I’m Black” Johnson stormed through a set of inspired Memphis to Chicago Soul and Blues showcasing his still magnificent falsetto vocals, along with his ol’ friends from Memphis’ HI Records, the Hodges brothers, who supply the perfect funky soul rhythm, bringin’ us back to the ‘70’s Memphis Soul Stew. “Back For A Taste of Your Love” “Take Me To The River”, “Anyway the Wind Blows!”
The guy I wasn’t familiar with who blew me away was obscure Alabama soul man, Ralph “Soul” Jackson, who performed as part of Chicagoan John Ciba’s Rabbit Factory label Soul Review, backed up by the Checkmates, a killer young band from Oxford, Mississippi led by guitarist J.D. Mark. Ralph Jackson has got it all- charisma, great smile and wig, distinctive quivering pleading vocals, and dance moves/stage presence. Where has this guy been? You never know who’s gonna show up and play at the Stomp- the Memphis/New Orleans underground legend Alex Chilton (of Box Tops and Big Star fame) was seen playing guitar during Soul Jackson’s fantastic set, calmly chomping on his gum while burlesque dancers gyrated on stage with Jackson! Rabbit Factory also featured other fantastic obscure Southern Soul singers Herman Hitson and Roscoe Robinson.
Other highlights were Little Freddie King, Louisiana Red, James “Blood” Ulmer, Mac Rebbenack (aka Dr. John on guitar!), Travis “Scratchy” Wammack, the Mighty Hannibal, The Collins Kids, Tammy Lynn, Deke Dickerson (who is the not so secret weapon, backing up everybody!), Roy Head, Lil Buck Sinegal, Roky “13th Floor” Erickson, and so many more, including the act that was the runaway most talked about set of the Fest, ? and the Mysterians!! ? and the Mysterians absolutely devastated the crowd with raucous and primal ROCK ‘N’ ROLL, an exhilarating 2+ hour set to close out the Stomp. These Mexican-Americans from Saginaw and Flint, MI (!!) are known for their one hit from ’66, the garage rock classic “96 Tears.” Flamboyant lead singer Rudy Martinez (?) is the Mexican Mick Jagger/Iggy Pop and has to be seen to be believed!
The age defying ? and original guitarist Bobby Balderrama (complete bad ass!!) have unbelievably been together since ’62!! Words cannot describe this act; do yourself a favor and do not miss this band if they are in your area- “Do you Feel It Baby?!”
I’ll have to say, I dearly miss the cozier confines, looser vibe, and artist approachability of New Orleans’ Mid-City Lanes Rock ‘N Bowl, which was the previous home base of the Stomp in New Orleans (besides the first year, held at the tiny Fine Arts Theater where Swamp blues legend Tony Joe White of “Polk Salad Annie” fame resurrected his career!) Since Katrina, it has been held at the roomier House of Blues to accommodate the growing Stomp devotees, and to also help tighten up/organize the inevitable mixed up or delayed time slots in the all day/night schedule of over 30 acts!!
This year’s Stomp also had an added bonus of having special daytime music conferences with musicians, historians, and roots music biz heavies sharing and trading fascinating intimate stories about rock’s secret history. The big hit of the conference was the charismatic Joe Bihari of Modern Records fame who everyone seemed to want to be around, hanging on his every word - he never shook a DJ’s hand without mucho $ in it!
Thank you Ira Padnos, Uncle Tony, and Michael Hurtt and the rest of the Mystic Knights for another unforgettable Stomp. Let’s take the Stomp to Chicago, y’all!


Congrats go out to the amazingly talented Nicole Mitchell and Kahil el’Zabar for just being nominated for the ’08 Jazz Journalists Assoc. awards for Flutist of the year and Up and Coming Musician of the year for Nicole, along with Percussionist of the year for Kahil!!

On a sad note, our dear friend Little Arthur Duncan has been making a slow but encouraging recovery after being hospitalized with hemorrhaging in the brain and has been breathing on and off with a respirator. Our thoughts and prayers are with you, Arthur!
We also want to express our heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of Chicago jazz legends who recently passed away, pianist John Young (’22-’08) and 95 year old saxophonist Franz Jackson, along with long time Willie Kent blues drummer Dave Jefferson.

Look ahead to the fall for a wonderful tribute concert to Delmark and Bob Koester in celebrating 55 years of blues and jazz!! This will be at our friendly neighboring venue, Old Town School of Folk Music (celebrating their 50th!!) with a Dave Specter’s Blues/Jazz Summit with many special guests!

Kevin Johnson
Director of Promotion
Delmark Records- 55 years young this year!
4121 North Rockwell
Chicago, Illinois 60618
(773) 539-5001

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