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Rock 'n' Roll Gumbo (Maison de Blues Series)

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Album Review

This delightful Professor Longhair album has almost slipped through the cracks more times than a skinny feather in the wind. Recorded in April 1974 in Bogalusa, LA (Professor Longhair's birthplace) just days after his house had burned to the ground, the sessions feature Longhair on piano and vocals, longtime friend Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown on guitar and violin, Julius Farmer on bass, and the Professor's longtime percussion team, drummer Sheba and conga player Alfred "Uganda" Roberts. Producer Philippe Rault coaxed a bright, lively sound from these musicians and the resulting album, Rock 'n Roll Gumbo, which features 12 of the 14 tracks cut in the two days, was easily one of Longhair's best. Initially, it was only released in Europe, and only saw a limited and local release in the U.S. when Warren Hildebrand's Mardi Gras Records put it out in 1978. Still virtually unheard by all but a lucky few, producer Rault revisited the album in 1985 for George Winston's Dancing Cat label, reinserting the two songs that had been left off the initial release, the infectious as sugar "Rum and Coke" and the marvelous "Mardi Gras in New Orleans," on which tenor saxophonist Jerry Jumonville and trumpeter Steve Madaio were brought in to overdub horns some ten years after the original sessions. The two additional songs made the album even better, and it is this augmented version that Sunnyside has now released in 2006. "Mardi Gras in New Orleans" is now the lead track, and it sets the fun, celebratory tone of the whole sequence, which grooves and swings in classic Professor Longhair gumbo style from start to finish, driven in part by the funky, deadened drum sound Rault got from Sheba and Roberts. This is simply a classic Professor Longhair album, and longtime fans and newcomers alike will find it completely irresistible.

Customer Reviews

WOW- There is a reason they call him the "Bach of Rock"

This is as good as it gets. If anyone gets the tag of "founding father" of New Orleans piano, then it's Fess. This is a great selection of songs that include "hey now baby" and the famous Tipitina. The mix on the recordings is great, and the band is tight. This is really a must have CD for anyone who prides themselves as being a fan of New Orleans music!

An Absolute Classic

I had this on vinyl way back when. Back in the days of mix tapes (remember them?) one or two songs from this album seemed to end up on every "Party Mix" I made. If you're looking to get feet tapping & rumps shaking, you can't go wrong with the Prof, particularly on this smokin' outing with a band that includes Gatemouth Brown. This is the essence of good-time New Orleans rock'n'roll. If you like real music made with real joy, this is guaranteed to be a favorite. If "Doin' It" don't get ya' doin' something, you may be dead.

Classic Gumbo Rock!

I have to agree with the other two reveiwers before me, this is about as good as it gets! If your listening to this man play as he does and your body does not begin to shake, rattle and roll, then your dead! Like great gumbo this man brought it all together! Peace Guy Piano


Born: December 19, 1918 in Bogalusa, LA

Genre: Blues

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

Justly worshipped a decade and a half after his death as a founding father of New Orleans R&B, Roy "Professor Longhair" Byrd was nevertheless so down-and-out at one point in his long career that he was reduced to sweeping the floors in a record shop that once could have moved his platters by the boxful. That Longhair made such a marvelous comeback testifies to the resiliency of this late legend, whose Latin-tinged rhumba-rocking piano style and croaking, yodeling vocals were as singular and spicy...
Full Bio