Cousin Joe

The Complete Recordings

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Pleasant Joseph, under his own name and a whole host of aliases, including Cousin Joe, Smiling Joe, Pleasant Joe, and Brother Joshua, combined country blues piano with just a bit of New Orleans jazz, and coupled with his everyman voice, which managed to convey a wink and a grin in just about every inflection, he maintained an impressive balance between sounding down-home and uptown, even splitting his time between New Orleans and New York as if to geographically seal the deal. This three-disc box from Night Train Records collects everything he recorded under his various monikers between 1945 and 1955, including cuts with Leonard Feather's Hiptet, Pete Brown's Brooklyn Blue Blowers, Earl Bostic's Gotham Sextet and Orchestra, the Sam Price Trio, and the Dave Bartholemew Orchestra. Among the highlights are the intimate "Broken Man Blues," the rocking "Fly Hen Blues," the gospel-tinged "If I Just Keep Still," the bright piano runs of "Lightning Struck the Poorhouse," the energetic gambling tale "Box Car Shorty and Peter Blue" and its sequel, "Box Car Shorty's Confession," and the stomping "Ramblin' Woman (Thomas Jefferson Blues)." A little bit jazz, with a touch of gospel, Joe always stayed true to the blues roots of his material, injecting it with a refreshing sense of humor that gives his songs a real presence. Then there's his quick and bright piano style, which simply sparkles and shines. The blues seldom sound this engagingly fun. Blue Moon Records has released this same material as three separate discs, but having everything in one set like this is a definite plus.

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