My New Orleans friends Adrienne and Bill gave me this album for Christmas but I’ve just had a chance to spend some serious time listening to it. I knew it would be cool, because Adrienne and Bill know what’s cool when it comes to New Orleans music.
Dr. John called James Booker “the best black, gay, one-eyed junkie piano genius New Orleans has ever produced.” He was a virtuoso keyboardist who combined a lot of traditions, stride, Latin, classical, jazz, gospel, blues, into a distinct style that’s still recognizable as a variant of a traditional New Orleans musical gumbo. He sometimes added plaintive vocals to his recordings.
Booker died at the age of 43 in 1983 — this album contains his last commercial recordings. They’re strange and spooky and wonderful — something in that gumbo you haven’t tasted before and can’t quite put a name to.
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