|New Delmark Releases|
by Willard Manus
Delmark, the Chicago-based record company (and mail-order house), has been busy lately. Delmark specializes in blues, but it always manages to surprise with unexpected releases that can't easily be found elsewhere.
A case in
point is LOW DOWN PAPA, featuring Clarence "Jelly" Johnson playing
transcribed nickelodeon piano rolls from the 1920s. Johnson is largely
unknown today, but ninety years ago he was one of Chicago's most illustrious
jazzmen. Not only did he record piano rolls for Capitol, he backed up
such blues singers as Lizzie Miles, Edna Hicks and Monette Moore. LOW
DOWN PAPA features Johnson on 20 solo classics, some of which he wrote
himself. Delmark has enhanced the originals, making for a fresh, vital
can be said for Ernest Dawkins's recent CD, THE PRAIRIE PROPHET. In putting
together his fifth CD for Delmark, Dawkins called on his longtime band,
New Horizons Ensemble, and recorded seven tunes with it, all of which
are original compositions. Hawkins has been playing freeform music since
1978, music that combines jazz with classical, hard-bop and African funk
(and more). If 21st-century jazz is your thing, Dawkins is your man. THE
PRAIRIE PROPHET is dedicated to the late Fred Anderson.
Kinds never managed to make a national reputation for himself. In 1993, he relocated to Dubuque, Iowa but kept playing the blues, so well that he was inducted into the Iowa Blues Hall of Fame. Now Delmark has given him national exposure with LOVE YOU FROM THE TOP, on which Kinds sings fifteen songs of his own, backed up by four superlative musicians. Let's hope it will be a break-out disc for this much-deserving artist.