Pee Wee Crayton

Texas Blues Jumpin' in Los Angeles: The Modern Music Sessions 1948-1951

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Arriving some 14 years after Ace's second volume of Pee Wee Crayton's Modern material, this collection is long overdue. Indeed, as Dick Shurman points out in his liner notes, this release is something of a tribute to Ray Topping, the Ace archivist chiefly responsible for the label's previous Crayton CDs, which did a good job in restoring Crayton's reputation. Texas Blues Jumpin' in Los Angeles: The Modern Music Sessions 1948-1952 doesn't alter that rep, as it simply offers a lot more of the same jumping electric blues and smooth numbers spiked by Crayton's live-wire solos. All this was apparent on the turn-of-the-millennium collections, but what's impressive about this specific disc is that all but three of the 28 cuts are previously unreleased, taken from acetates that have remained in the vaults. Most of these are alternate takes of released material and, while they show no alternate arrangements, they do amply illustrate the silken suppleness of Crayton's croon and, most of all, that spiky, scintillating lead guitar. Often, his leads and fills seemed piped in from another setting -- the natural overdrive a precursor to Ike Turner's unrestrained R&B -- and that gives this music a visceral thrill. Perhaps none of these alternates are better than what was released, but the consistency is rewarding, proof of Crayton's distinct gifts.

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