Album Details

August 02, 2005
Blues, New Orleans Blues, Regional Blues, Piano Blues, New Orleans R&B

Album Review

Henry Roeland Byrd (Professor Longhair, or just Fess, to his fans, admirers and friends) distilled and synthesized New Orleans R&B piano playing to a fine art, mixing Caribbean rhumba rhythms with stride style and even a hint of Dixieland in his approach, topping it all off with seemingly effortless vocals that made everything he sang feel like a rockin' party was in full swing. Fess first recorded in 1949, and sides like "Big Chief," "Go to the Mardi Gras," and "Tipitina" became Crescent City classics in the 1950s and early '60s, but unfortunately he never saw the kind of commercial success that other New Orleans piano players like Fats Domino were able to achieve. Longhair's influence and presence in New Orleans was immense, though, and when he was "rediscovered" in 1971, it was really kind of a joke since he had been the heart and soul of the R&B scene there for years. In 1978, John Stedman of JSP Records brought Longhair to London for a concert at the New London Theatre, a venue with great acoustics, and accompanied only by his conga player Alfred Roberts and playing a top of the line grand piano, Fess delivered the impressive, energetic, and intimate set that is presented here in this 30th Anniversary CD reissue. It's a typically fun Professor Longhair show with great sound as he runs through "Big Chief," "Tipitina," "Go to the Mardi Gras" (complete with a whistled vocal solo), "Hey Now Baby" and other touchstones with warmth, vitality, and verve with Roberts locked in at every note and turn. Longhair did hundreds of performances just like this in countless New Orleans joints and clubs, but to hear him so well recorded is nothing short of a welcome blessing. Longtime fans simply have to get this set, and those new to Fess will undoubtedly find that this album works like a gateway to the work of an amazing and one of a kind musician. Highly recommended.
Steve Leggett, Rovi

Track Listing

  1. Mess Around
  2. Hey Now Baby
  3. Whole Lot of Loving
  4. Go to the Mardi Gras
  5. Bald Head
  6. Tipitina
  7. Big Chief
  8. Every Day I Have the Blues
  9. Hey Little Girl
  10. Lovely Lady
  11. Medley: She Walks Right in/Shake, Rattle & Roll/Sick & Tired
  12. Rockin' Pneumonia and the Boogie Woogie Flu
  13. Rockin' with Fes
  14. P.L. Boogie