|Eddie Cleanhead Vinson|
By Willard Manus
Delmark has done it again. The Chicago-based record company has long been noted for its blues & jazz list, the latest addition to which is EDDIE CLEANHEAD VINSON--KIDNEY STEW IS FINE. The CD was first recorded in 1969 by the French company, Black & Blue. Delmark recently obtained the American rights, no doubt influenced by the fact that Downbeat cited the disc as one of the top fifty blues recordings of all time.
Vinson (1917-1988) was born in Houston, where he cut his chops playing sax with the likes of Illinois Jacquet and Arnett Cobb, followed by gigs with Big Bill Broonzy and Cootie Williams. He formed his own band in 1945 and recorded with Mercury for several years, before becoming an important player in the jazz field, thanks to his work with John Coltrane and Cannonball Adderly.
Vinson's return to the blues was marked by the Black & Blue date, which took place in Paris and reunited him with some old pals: guitarist Aaron T-Bone Walker, pianist Jay McShann (who died just last year) and tenorsaxman Hal Singer. The other musicians included Roland Lobligeois (bass) and Paul Gunther (drums). Together this admirable group delivers stirring and memorable versions of Old Kidney Stew is Fine, Things Ain't What They Used to Be, I'm In an Awful Mood and Please Send Me Someone to Love, among others. Mixing rollicking jump-tunes with slow blues, Vinson sings with passion and gusto throughout.