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New Orleans Piano Wizard: Live!

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Album Review

Why so much of what pianist/vocalist James Booker recorded in the 1970s didn't surface until the '90s is a mystery, but that's secondary compared to the greatness routinely presented on this CD. It contains nine Booker selections that he performed at the 1977 Boogie Woogie and Ragtime Piano Contest held in Zurich. His relentless, driving style, ability to switch from a hard-hitting tune to a light, soft one without skipping a beat, and wild mix of sizzling keyboard licks and bemused, manic vocals are uniformly impressive. It's a bit short for a CD at 37 minutes, but it has so much flamboyant music and singing that it shouldn't be missed.

Customer Reviews

One of the most powerful musical experiences ever

I only show this album to my closest friends because the music is so beautiful that I want to cry every time I hear it. No joke. Listen to Black Night, Please Send Me Someone to Love, Let Them Talk... and you'll get a sense of what I mean.


Incredible music and brilliant piano work. A not very well known gem. James Booker was well known for making the most of any piano no matter whether it was in tune or in poor condition. There are moments in several of his songs where you would swear there are 2 pianos playing but I can assure you it's the raw talent of only one man!

New Orleans Piano Wizard: Live! James Booker

I just discovered this album on itunes, and I love it. Anyone who likes this type of piano blues should also check out Erwin Helfer.


Born: December 17, 1939 in New Orleans, LA

Genre: Blues

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

Certainly one of the most flamboyant New Orleans pianists in recent memory, James Carroll Booker III was a major influence on the local rhythm & blues scene in the '50s and '60s. Booker's training included classical instruction until age 12, by which time he had already begun to gain recognition as a blues and gospel organist on radio station WMRY every Sunday. By the time he was out of high school he had recorded on several occasions, including his own first release, "Doing the Hambone," in 1953....
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