Record of the day: Champion Jack Dupree "Blue Horizon Sessions"

Record of the day: Champion Jack Dupree “Blue Horizon Sessions”

Champion Jack Dupree
The Complete Blue Horizon Sessions (2 CD Columbia 518516-2)

Impossible to resist the style of Champion Jack Dupree, one of the authentic masters of blues piano, born in New Orleans
and heavily influenced by musicians from the Chicago music scene such as Big Bill Broonzy and Memphis Slim. Champion Jack's fingers (the nickname comes from his passion for boxing which led him to compete in over one hundred matches in the ring)
they hammered on the keyboard reaching the power of an entire rhythm section but were also capable of greater subtleties of touch; his pianism is essential, it collects the moods of the purest New Orleans style but compared to musicians like Professor Longhair and Dr.

John has less Caribbean echoes and is more linked to the sound of Delta Blues.

After a career full of adventures which saw him pass through many record companies collaborating with artists such as
Sonny Terry, Brownie Mc Ghee, Blind Boy Johnson and Willie Johnson (not counting the incalculable number of recordings made
instantly for anyone who offered him cash) Dupree took refuge in Europe in the late 1950s and never returned to the United States until his death in 1992. Until late in life (he was born in 1910) he continued to play successfully in many European countries, managing to enchant the public not only with his skill and his expressive voice, but also
thanks to the hilarious anecdotes with which he used to introduce his songs.

The album “Blues In The Gutter” made for Atlantic in 1957 is undoubtedly indispensable, but the album I recommend is by
excellent quality and easier to find. A relaxed and at the same time full of energy atmosphere is found in these recordings made in 1968-69 for the English label Blue Horizon. The two CDs include 4 albums, plus several songs recorded live: the almost sixty-year-old Jack sparkles on the keyboard and sings with incredible energy both in solo performances and accompanied by excellent British musicians such as Ansley Dunbar (drums), Paul Kossoff and Mick Taylor (guitars), Christopher Turner (harmonica).

Dupree's caustic humor spills over into the salacious and grotesque lyrics of “Big Fat Woman,” “See My Milk Cow,” “Income Tax” and
“Grandma (You're a Bit Too Slow)” but there is no shortage of more aggressive and desperate themes in “My Home's in Hell” and “I've Been Mistreated”.

Carlo Boccadoro, composer and conductor, was born in Macerata in 1963. He lives and works in Milan. He collaborates with soloists and orchestras in different parts of the world. He is the author of numerous books on musical topics.

This text is taken from “Lunario della musica: A record for every day of the year” published by Einaudi, courtesy of the author and the publisher.