Makin´Blues History

REVIEW by Willard Manus

Regular visitors to Babe & Ricky's in Leimert Square will surely have enjoyed the music of Deacon Jones, the keyboardist who leads the house band at L.A.'s most famous (and funky) blues club.

Jones is an amazing talent: a passionate and soulful virtuoso on the Hammond organ, a songwriter and music producer who honed his chops playing for the likes of John Lee Hooker, Gregg Allman, Elvis Bishop and Dr. John, to name but a few.

Jones has released two previous CDs: Jonesen for Money and Let's Talk About the Blues. Now we can enjoy a third, Makin Blues History, which features twelve original songs all of which were written by Jones (except for "Drinkin Bad Whiskey," which he co-wrote with Finis Tasby.) Jones also plays on all twelve cuts, except for "I'll Always Love You," having vacated the keyboard seat for vocalist/organist Katie Webster. The underrated Webster, by the way, also sings on "Drinkin' Bad Whiskey" in a sizzling duet with Gregg Allman. Whether singing slow or uptempo, she can really deliver the vocal goods. It's a shame that she died without having achieved the national recognition she deserved.

Actually, all the personnel on this tuneful, brimming-with-life CD are musicians of the highest order. The assorted vocalists, for example, include Joe Louis Walker, the late John Lee Hooker, Larry Pierce and Bobby Phillips. The bass players are Tom Stokes, Dave Shogren, Benny Turner, Pierce and Jim Guyette--some of the top players in the business.

On some cuts Jones uses the trumpets of either Oscar Meyer or Gabriel Rosati, backed up by the drums of Don Welty or Harold Jones. Harp player Gary Smith is heard on only one cut, the sardonic "Half That Woman," but an assortment of guitarists, sax players and percussionists provide elsewhere the colors and flavors.

John Lee Hooker's complaint about the indifference of the human race (on "People Don't Care") was a highlight, but my favorites were Webster's vocals and Lydia Pense's downhome renditions of "Your Sweet Lovin'" and "Shaken."

MAKIN' BLUES HISTORY sells for $14.99 including postage and handling. Send check or money order to Nile Lotus Records, 1449 Point View, #5, L.A., CA. 90035. Cassettes are $12.99