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Roosevelt Sykes Vol. 8 (1945-1947)

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Album Review

Volume eight in the complete recordings of Roosevelt Sykes as reissued by Document covers his Victor/Bluebird output from 1945 through October 1947. During this portion of his lengthy career, Sykes brought in some of Chicago's toughest sessionmen, including a brace of horn players who fortified the texture of his act and summoned a jazz element that blended well with his steadily ripening approach to blues and boogie-woogie. Sykes' saxophonists on this collection have been identified as J.T. Brown, Bill Casimir, Calmes Julian, Oett "Sax" Mallard, Martin Rough, and Leon Washington. He also used trumpeters Lucius Henderson and Johnny Morton, as well as a clarinetist by the name of Johnny Walker, and quite an assortment of guitarists, bassists, and drummers. Sykes, who made his first recordings in 1929 and continued to perform until shortly before his death in 1983, was most often heard as soloist or leader of small rhythm combos. That makes his bristly post-war sessions all the more intriguing, as wind instruments add extra layers to his already substantial weave of visceral vocals and double-fisted piano.


Born: 31 January 1906 in Elmar, AR

Genre: Blues

Years Active: '20s, '30s, '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s

Next time someone voices the goofball opinion that blues is simply too depressing to embrace, sit 'em down and expose 'em to a heady dose of Roosevelt Sykes. If he doesn't change their minds, nothing will. There was absolutely nothing downbeat about this roly-poly, effervescent pianist (nicknamed "Honeydripper" for his youthful prowess around the girls), whose lengthy career spanned the pre-war and postwar eras with no interruption whatsoever. Sykes' romping boogies and hilariously risqué lyrics...
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