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Blues Masters Vol. 10

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Album Review

Although Otis Spann will always be known as the piano player in the Muddy Waters band, his solo work should not be overlooked. Possessing a beautifully expressive voice, Spann was also a facile songwriter, and freed of the restrictions inherent in a working electric blues band, his solo sides find him stretching out on piano as well. This set was recorded live in 1963 in a Copenhagen studio, and it features Spann mostly solo at the piano, although at least one track, the elegant "Trouble in Mind," adds the great Lonnie Johnson on electric guitar. Spann sounds relaxed and in control here, and his silky smooth piano runs combine with his smoky, soulful singing to create what will be a complete revelation to listeners who only know his work with Waters. Essentially, this is blues done at the more sophisticated end of the scale, and though it stops short of being true jazz, it has that timeless, airy feel of skillfully arranged improvisation. Highlights include the poignant and graceful "Love, Love, Love," the intriguing "Boots and Shoes," a wonderful rendition of "Worried Life Blues," and a powerful, stomping version of "Must Have Been the Devil," Spann's 1954 single from Chess Records. Analogue Productions has released this same set, with the same running order, as Good Morning Mr. Blues.

Biography

Born: 21 March 1930 in Jackson, MS

Genre: Blues

Years Active: '50s, '60s

An integral member of the nonpareil Muddy Waters band of the 1950s and '60s, pianist Otis Spann took his sweet time in launching a full-fledged solo career. But his own discography is a satisfying one nonetheless, offering ample proof as to why so many aficionados considered him then and now Chicago's leading post-war blues pianist. Spann played on most of Waters' classic Chess waxings between 1953 and 1969, his rippling 88s providing the drive on Waters' seminal 1960 live version...
Full bio
Blues Masters Vol. 10, Otis Spann
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