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.

Click on the image to enlarge.