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Big Joe Jumps Again! Cincinnati Blues Session

Big Joe Duskin

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Album Review

When he was 17, Big Joe Duskin made a promise to his preacher father that he wouldn't play secular music on the piano until after his father had passed from this world, a promise he intended to keep, and did. Reverend Perry Duskin was 79-years-old at the time, and unfortunately for Big Joe's musical aspirations, the elder Duskin lived until 1963, finally dying at the age of 105, at which time Big Joe's piano skills had all but vanished. But he made up for lost time, and has been a fixture on the Cincinnati blues scene for some years, playing his boogie woogie piano, a last link to the barrelhouse tradition of the 1930s. Age and diabetes have caught up with Duskin, though, and his speed at the piano is now gone, but on Big Joe Jumps Again he compensates by tackling mostly mid-tempo shuffles, and lets his increasingly expressive voice carry the weight. Working with a no-frills rhythm section of Phillip Paul on drums and Ed Conley on bass (both veterans of countless King Records sessions), Duskin's loose and ragged piano has an endearing shakiness about it, and if the speed is gone, the heart is still there, and everything fits when he starts to sing. There aren't many surprises here (unless you count the presence of guitarist Peter Frampton on two cuts), as Duskin tackles several old blues standards, including Memphis Slim's "Every Day I Have the Blues" and a raggedly affecting version of the traditional blues piece,"Betty and Dupree." It's piano blues, pure and simple, and played by a man who has spent a lifetime loving it, and waited nearly half his life to get a chance to play it. All of that comes through here, but what is most interesting, perhaps, is the sudden churchy feel that comes in near the end of the album, and on the most unlikely of songs, a cover of Johnny Horton's "North to Alaska." In Duskin's hands the song takes on a strange spiritual tone, as if Alaska was standing in for Heaven, and it is the emotional centerpiece of Big Joe Jumps Again.

Biography

Born: 10 February 1921 in Birmingham, AL

Genre: Blues

Years Active: '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

Pianist, singer, and songwriter Big Joe Duskin got his start playing piano in church, accompanying his father's sermons with gospel hymns. He began playing piano at age seven, but the sounds of bluesmen passing through Cincinnati, OH, caught his ear and his imagination, and his life changed. Duskin was born February 10, 1921, in Birmingham, AL, the third youngest of 11 children. His father was a preacher who found steady work on the railroad and moved the family to Cincinnati. Duskin grew up not...
Full bio
Big Joe Jumps Again! Cincinnati Blues Session, Big Joe Duskin
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  • €8.99
  • Genres: Blues, Music, Jazz
  • Released: 07 September 2004

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