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Barrelhouse Chuck
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Review date: August 2002
Source: The Sirens Records SR-5004 (www.thesirensrecords.com)

Barrelhouse Chuck w/Erwin Hefler
"Prescription For The Blues"

“Classic jazz, blues and boogie from the South Side of Chicago will flourish so long as Barrelhouse Chuck is at work. In his newest release, a welcome solo outing, the singer-pianist asserts himself as a veritable one-man-band. Listen to his exquisitely ornamented piano lines on Leroy Carr's "My Own Lonesome Blues", rolling boogie rhythms on Carr's "Mean Mistreater Mama" and all-over-the-keys virtuosity on Sunnyland Slim's "Johnson Machine Gun", and it's clear that Barrelhouse Chuck has become an important advocate for historic repertoire. At the same time, he builds on the achievements of the giants with the beauty of his keyboard touch and the melancholy tone of his vocals.”
~Howard Reich, Chicago Tribune August 4, 2002


Chicago is home base for many of the top (but not necessarily well-known) piano blues (also boogie-woogie) artists in the country. The Sirens Records seems determined to document as many of them on disc as possible. This The Sirens CD features Barrelhouse Chuck (aka Chuck Goering), who gets a little help from his friend Erwin Helfer on three tracks. If any jazz style can make a piano wail and talk, it's piano blues. Listen to it talk about trials and tribulations on such cuts as "Mean Mistreater Mama" and "Tin Pan Alley." Although self-taught, Goering clearly comes under the stylistic influences of such leading practitioners of this art as Sunnyland Slim, Pinetop Perkins, Muddy Waters, and more, while his signing finds derivation in Little Brother Montgomery. Of the three tracks with Helfer, "Prescription for the Blues," where Helfer plays and Goering sings, is the "bluest" of the bunch. Modified boogie-woogie comes to the fore with "Barrelhouse Woman" when the singer, like thousands of blues singers before him, tries to set his woman straight with the same amount of success as had his predecessors. But it's great piano even if it's wishful thinking. Every jazz fan should periodically listen to this style to get a feel for the pathos and emotion that jazz can generate, as well as to revel in the amazing talent these players pack. They can shift between the up-tempo, such as "Nutty Boogie," and the slow drag, both pianistically and vocally, as if there is nothing to it. These artists offer a perspective on jazz that gets too little recognition in these days of high-tech, "let's merge jazz, rock, and adult contemporary" gimmickry too often foisted on the public by the record companies. Keep 'em coming, The Sirens!
~Dave Nathan (www.allmusic.com)

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