Jazz Plus: Ron Wynn picks some of his favorite blues and world music CDs just in time for Christmas
ArtsNash – December 16, 2013 – by Ron Wynn
New Orleans piano marvel James Booker combined artistry, soul and technique in a flamboyant, remarkable fashion that established his rank in the upper echelon of pianists in any genre. Originally issued in 1982, “Classified” remains perhaps the only Booker album that those not plugged into the underground scene (where bootleg cassettes of his concerts are a staple) have ever heard. But this updated, expanded version almost qualifies as a new release. There are nine previously unissued numbers, many (“Angel Eyes,” “Madame X,” “All Around the World”) that are astonishing in terms of what he executes from a rhythm and harmonic basis. Booker never just delivers a melody. He zips through it, reworks or embellishes it. The subsequent ideas that are developed sometimes seem impossible, particularly in terms of the ease and speed with which he produces them. With a new documentary and “Classified: Remixed and Expanded” just issued, perhaps James Booker will finally get the acclaim and exposure he justly deserves.