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CD Review
25 Years of Chicago Blues Piano - Volume 2 Instrumentals
Barrellhouse Chuck
Viola Records
By David Whiteis
Living blues 2006

Blues CD Cover Art This is the second in a series of reissues culled from Chicago-based pianist Barrelhouse Chuck's recorded legacy. As before, several of the outings feature Chuck's band mates as prominently as they showcase him. Billy Flynn spins off as agreeable raucous invocation of Hound dog Taylor (though minus Taylor's edge of anarchy abandon) On Walking The Ceiling. The Boogie " On The House" showcases guitarist Hash Brown in a stripped down T-Bone mold. Flynn again takes over fret board on Earl Hooker's " Wah-Wah- Blues part 1 as Chuck vamps behind him on a delightfully sounding organ. Especially savory are the tracks on which fabled S. P. Leary makes an appearance on drums- along with his deft propulsiveness on the aforementioned On The House, he rumbas up a storm on KingPin and lays an exquisite Chicago backbeat behind harpist Todd Lavine on the Big Walter- style workout Hanging "Round The house.

The heart and soul of the disc. though, is Chuck's own performances. Tributes to his beloved mentors ( Blues For Little Brother Montgomery, Salute To Sunnyland Slim, Blues For Pinetop Perkins, B3 bogie for Stevie Winwood) evoke both the musical genius and the wise humanity of those men; Past Life Blues. A variation on the Forty-Four theme with strong Wolfian overtones, find Chuck's enthusiastic treble splays and flurries interweaving effortlessly with Flynn's grunge- flecked chords and leads. Unlike too many blues artists who remain rooted in earlier styles, Barrelhouse Chuck approaches those styles with the enthusiasm and commitment of a man with something new and important to say, rather than a museum guide. That spirit of immediacy permeates this disc and helps elevate it several steps above the usual purist " revivalist fare.

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