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Album Review

Iverson Minter, aka Louisiana Red, is a living legend of the blues who can't be stopped when he gets on a roll with either uptown electric or acoustic rural blues. In tandem with veteran and criminally underrated pianist David Maxwell, Red gives proof positive that the natural blues is still alive and well, even without a bassist or drummer. It also shows that Red can still pitch up a fuss on his own, distinctively singing and playing his stylized, instantly recognizable guitar that bears his unmistakable bent-note technique. Maxwell is always in tune with rambling boogie-woogie or straight-up urban blues techniques so much a part of the whole American blues continuum. What makes their alliance very compatible is that they know blues so stone-cold well that they can riff off it in original ways, and play Minter's compositions that suggest other classic tunes yet have something to say that is new. "Get Your Hands Off My Woman" is an old sentiment straight out of the Muddy Waters songbook with slow pace and twang, yet these two give it an extended instrumental jam-style treatment over almost eight minutes. "Stop Your Crying," featuring Red's compelling and resonant slide guitar work, and "New Jersey Women" with a similar framework to the easygoing "Sweet Home Chicago" but biting lyrics that they are "the worst women I ever saw," are also long songs with Red and Maxwell taking liberties in pithy, get-down solos. This music is deeply rooted in the Chicago tradition of urban neighborhood sounds and stories, but front-porch country music like the tale of his date with "Barbara Jean" and the classic "Going Back to Memphis" shows that Red and Maxwell can't stray far from their small-town beginnings. Two of Red's most famous tunes are here — the extremely slow and patient title track, where his glissando slide guitar sets a standard for all others to follow, and "Been Down So Long," a traveling-out-of-a-suitcase blues that is downhearted yet hopeful that things will get better. Maxwell plays extraordinary piano as always, with the grin of a Cheshire cat tempered with sage wisdom through the ages, his experience with greats like Dr. John serving him well. He can lay on the juke joint jive, jump and shout on his 88s, or dig deeply into the saddest or happiest refrains. The CD also contains two tracks where Red talks about his life and times, specifically with Homesick James, and a brief chat about how he bends his strings and shapes his melodies from a harmonic standpoint. This is an excellent recording, highly recommended to all blues lovers who keep tradition close at hand in the new millennium. ~ Michael G. Nastos, Rovi

Biography

Born: 10 March 1950 in Waltham, MA

Genre: Blues

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Pianist David Maxwell has been a part of the Boston blues scene as a sideman since the late 1960s, but has only in the '90s begun leading his own band and recording under his own name. Maxwell took some of his early stylistic cues from the likes of Spann, Sunnyland Slim and Pinetop Perkins, also listening to the recordings of Big Maceo, Ray Charles and Memphis Slim; he became friendly with Muddy Waters' longtime piano player, Otis Spann, in the late 1960s. Maxwell went on to back many great players...
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You Got to Move, David Maxwell
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