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The Complete Trix Recordings

Robert Lockwood, Jr.

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Album Review

The Savoy Jazz issue of Robert Lockwood Jr.'s legendary Trix recordings is a gift for anyone interested in the immediacy of raw, wide-open blues with no regard for convention or trend. Lockwood's music could have been recorded anytime between 1950 and the present. His production techniques are plaintive and serve to equalize everything at the same level, giving the music a live feel usually left behind in a studio. His idiosyncratic tunings and distorted amplification offer the listener the kind of in-your-face presence usually found only in a club. But it's the material, the volume and range of it, that is the most staggering. Lockwood and band — which includes the great blues saxophonist Maurice Reedus — tear through the blues from Delta to Chicago to Kansas City, from New York to Texas and beyond. Check the opener, "Little Boy Blue," for its deep Delta root and contrast it with the beautiful saxophone wail in "Annie's Boogie," which comes straight out of T-Bone Walker. Or dig the acoustic Piedmont-style blues in "Driving Wheel" and let it run you over before the jazzy blues of "Majors, Minors & Ninths," which echoes Charlie Christian, knocks you on your ass. All of these cuts are on disc one, but there are two totaling 25 tunes, recorded live in the studio without the benefit of a rehearsal or a mixdown. Disc two features a bit more Chicago-oriented material, such as "This Is the Blues" and "Little Queen of Spades," but it also features one of the most stunning reads of Robert Johnson's "Terraplane Blues" ever recorded. Indeed, the listener gets a distinct impression that hearing these songs played by this very same band on another night might sound very different than they do here; thank God, yes. This music is only sketched in forms, leaving plenty of room for honest to God improvisation, and the listener benefits mightily. Awesome.

Biography

Born: 27 March 1915 in Marvell, AR

Genre: Blues

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

Robert Lockwood, Jr., learned his blues firsthand from an unimpeachable source: the immortal Robert Johnson. Lockwood was capable of conjuring up the bone-chilling Johnson sound whenever he desired, but he was never one to linger in the past for long — which accounts for...
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