Frank Morey

The Delmark Sessions

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Bob Koester's Chicago-based Delmark Records hasn't always reflected his personal tastes, but it has always reflected his philosophy. From the 1950s to the 2000s, Koester has generally believed in supporting indie jazz and indie blues -- in other words, the sort of jazz and blues artists who major labels tend to neglect. Although Koester never really cared for avant-garde jazz -- his personal preferences are blues and very straight-ahead bop, swing, and Dixieland -- he's been great about documenting Chicago's AACM artists because he sees them as part of the indie music culture. The Delmark Sessions isn't a typical Delmark release; Frank Morey isn't jazz, and he isn't a blues artist per se (although he does provide the occasional blues-rock gem). Rather, the guitar-playing singer/songwriter favors a very bluesy, gritty approach to folk-rock and roots rock -- The Delmark Sessions is the sort of CD that would be more typical of Rounder or Flying Fish than Delmark. And yet, it is faithful to Delmark's history in that it is great indie roots music. Morey has a throaty, hoarse, rough-edged vocal style that recalls early Tom Waits and also underscores his appreciation of Chicago blues icon Howlin' Wolf -- The Delmark Sessions isn't dominated by the sort of 12-bar offerings that one finds on Wolf's CDs, but Morey is obviously well aware of Wolf's vocal style. He also has a healthy appreciation of early rock & roll -- and of course, rock & roll is a term that one will seldom hear in connection with a Delmark release. But again, Morey has such a rootsy, bluesy, rugged spirit that he does, in fact, belong on Delmark. If The Delmark Sessions is a rare example of Koester's label putting out a rock-friendly disc, it is a highly rewarding example.

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