Willie Kent

Make Room for the Blues

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Blues bassist Willie Kent has strong, supple bottom lines that have supported all the best groups, but he's led his own band as well. This is his fourth Delmark date, and Kent heartily asserts himself as a singer, with a tone like Johnny Adams with a rougher edge. His equally excellent band features lead guitarists Bill Flynn and Jake Dawson alternating tracks, with rhythm guitarist Willie Davis, pianist Kenny Barker, and drummer James Carter. Baritone saxophonist/arranger Willie Henderson from the old Tyrone Davis band leads a three-piece horn section on three tracks. This 13-song program -- ten written by Kent -- comprises mostly classic 12-bar, IV-V-I blues changes. A hard-swinging "3-6-9," with Dawson's swift guitar and Baker's boogie piano, supports a bitch session for Kent. He is fairly believable on the B.B. King-styled "Address in the Street." Albert King's style is more prevalent on a long, loping eight-minute title track with horns, and the more R&B-ish "I'm Hooked," again with Flynn doing a Memphis soul style of interpreting. Flynn can also play tasty Elmore James-type slide as on the easy, lowdown "I Had a Dream." Most fun is the typical Chicago blues "Do You Love Me?," which jumps and jives with all the flavor and depth you expect from the real thing. The deepest emotion is in the slower numbers. "I Know Where You've Been" is patient, deliberate, and cocksure, while "Teach Me How to Lie" is a down-home contradiction that perfectly exemplifies what everyone has to/doesn't do in this convoluted society. Unquestionably a great modern blues document, and one of the best CDs of 1998.

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