KING CURTIS — Blues At Montreux ( with Champion Jack Dupree) (review)

KING CURTIS — Blues At Montreux  ( with Champion Jack Dupree) album cover Live album · 1973 · Blues Buy this album from MMA partners
4.5/5 ·
More so a Champion Jack Dupree album than King Curtis but no matter as music really does not get much better than this Live recording which came about unintentionally as Jack was only at the Festival playing his solo barrel-house Blues piano and King Curtis was actually supporting the head-liner Aretha Franklin with his stunning saxophone contributions. Neshi Ertegun from Atlantic was in the bar at the Montreux Casino with Joel Dorn, Champion Jack Dupree and of course King Curtis and the idea was floated for the King and Jack to do a set together for the Festival. Different style of musicians is noted on the album cover but not really as the Blues is the basis for all that Jazz and R&B that King Curtis played anyway. King Curtis was a wonderful saxophonist and was in hot demand and had made 26 albums under his own name by this period with "Yackety Yak" which he did with The Coasters giving him his first break. King Curtis could play Jazz without a problem but he knew that Jazz was not going to give him the return that he received by playing all those Pop and Country hits and he did state himself "I wanted to hit the public's pulse, to play what they could understand and enjoy" which he sure did. Champion Jack Dupree was New Orleans born, never learned to read music but learnt to play by ear from an early age which is not surprising when he was brought up in an orphanage having lost both his parents in a fire. Blues is usually played in bar sequences with the number 12 often being the main one but Jack being self taught does not really pay that much heed with his count on piano but this is one of the reasons for his appeal with although a lack of training this does stamp Jack's music as his own, making it a beautifully rough distinct style of piano based Blues. It has been ten years since his last recording at Atlantic Records with "Champion Of The Blues" being the album but Jack Dupree had been around a long time before that with many recordings that were originally recorded with Okeh during the early 1940's. and his masterpiece "Blues From The Gutter" which was actually released in 1958 by Atlantic.

Talking about "Blue's From The Gutter" it is the song "Junker's Blues" taken from the album which gets the show underway by Jack putting down a bit of Boogie Woogie piano with King Curtis and band following with a quick spoken word introduction concerning the tune from Jack about reefers with their ups and downs in life with a laconic humorous approach that only a Southern Blues man can deliver but the slow groove that the band maintains is superb with some great work from King Curtis with his alto gargling at times during his solo and the beautiful blues bounce from Jack's piano on this classic number. That blues bounce is back even at a quicker tempo for "Sneaky Pete" with Boogie Woogie just pushing it all along with King Curtis putting down some terrific solo sax bits in between Jack's comments and he really hits one riding groove to just keep things interesting in between and not only that remember the band has to keep one ear on Jack's piano count and this material was not even rehearsed for the show with masterful being only the word to desribe King Curtis and band. It just keeps boogie-ing along with the next "Everything's Gonna Be Alright" and does the King give it to us with his sax on this one with one beautiful blues solo with the band in full swing right behind him but yes there is more when Cornell comes in on lead guitar with Jack's piano flicking in and out to lead us to his own great little tinkler.

That was just side one of the record with things staying in full swing for the flip with "Get With It" which is followed by "Poor Boy's Blues" being the big slow blues with Jack singing "I'm just a poor boy a long way from home" I ain't got nobody to teach me right from wrong" of course with a blues repitition and amongst all this slow build up Jack keeps singing that "he keeps on drinking like a fool" and King Curtis just powers through with that saxophone during his superb blues solo. Jack gets right back into the full swing boogie for "I'm Having Fun' which is what Jack is doing in this little rough diamond of a song to finish of this great spontaneous set that was recorded back in 1971 at some Jazz Festival in Switzerland.

This is fresh, rough, has the odd muck-up but it only makes things more authentic with Roots being the source for this wonderful distinct Blues album. This is not Chicago Blues with all it sharp lead guitar and harp breaks but primarily piano, saxophone with just a little tasty lead guitar at times thrown in from Cornell Dupree. Essential music and it does not get much better than this with a New Orleans influence of course.
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