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211 Segments




Howlin' Wolf: A Blues Legend With An Earthy Sound.

Sam Phillips once referred to Howlin' Wolf's voice as "where the soul of man never dies." Phillips, who worked with dozens of great Memphis musicians, never changed his mind. Rock historian Ed Ward examines the evolution of Wolf's singular talent.


Bonnie Raitt's 'Slipstream': A Barnstorming Good Time.

Slipstream is Raitt's first album since 2005's Souls Alike, and she's produced most of the tracks herself. Rock critic Ken Tucker says that this return to recording and her renewed control over her music has resulted in one of Raitt's finest albums.


The 'Complete Mythology' Of Syl Johnson

Al Green wrote "Take Me to the River," but it was his labelmate Syl Johnson who first made it famous. Rock historian Ed Ward traces Johnson's early career, which started in Chicago blues clubs in the 1950s.


Dr. John: Righteous Anger, Graced By Wit.

Mac Rebennack, known as "Dr. John," has been a rock and soul ambassador for his native New Orleans since the late 1960s. Although his public profile has risen and fallen over the years, the spirit of his city is a constant presence on all of his albums. Critic Milo Miles talks about how crusading for wounded New Orleans has given Dr. John a jolt of vitality.


Tom Jones: 'The Lady Gaga Of Elvis Impersonators'

Jones has been a pop star since 1965, when he released his first single, "It's Not Unusual." Since that time, he's remained a star overseas, while resurfacing periodically on the American pop charts. Rock critic Ken Tucker review his latest album, a collection of gospel, blues and soul covers called Praise and Blame.


Freddie King And The Harsh 'Business' Of The Blues

Of the three great blues guitarists named King -- B.B., Albert and Freddie, -- arguably the most influential was also the least well-known: Freddie. But his most important work has been unavailable until recently. Critic Ed Ward review a recent release, Taking Care of Business, which spans much of King's career.


Sam Newsome: A Soprano Sax 'Soliloquy.'

Soprano saxophone can be an unforgiving instrument. It's hard to play in tune, and many players get a pinched or nasal tone like it has a bad cold. Its biggest proponents — Steve Lacy, Lol Coxhill — do influence Sam Newsome, but he stakes out his own turf with eerie-sounding, hoarse and hollow split-tones.


Peter Wolf: From J. Geils Band To 'Midnight Souvenirs.'

Wolf was the lead singer of the J. Geils Band, which led many to assume he was J. Geils. He explains how the band — with hits such as "Centerfold," "Freeze Frame" and "Love Stinks" — actually got its name and discusses his new country-influenced solo album, Midnight Souvenirs.


At Pepper's Hideout, A South Side Party To Remember

In 1975, Michael Abrasion decided to photograph the blues clubs of Chicago. The pictures Abramson took in Pepper's Hideout, among other venues, have been released in a set called Light on the South Side. Jazz critic Ed Ward takes a listen to Pepper's Jukebox, the CD released along with the photographs.


Wadada Leo Smith: Old And New 'Dimensions'

With his wide leaps between long tones and a sometimes generous use of space, trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith nods occasionally to 20th-century European concert music. But he's also one of the modern improvisers most grounded in African-American vernaculars; he's the stepson of Mississippi bluesman Alex Wallace, and he played for a spell in Little Milton's blues band. Smith's projects are all over the map, but often have this much in common with the blues: the byplay between a strong voice — his horn, in this case — and percussive strings.


Geoff Muldaur Takes Texas Sheiks On The Road.

For decades, singer songwriter Geoff Muldaur has been reinterpreting blues and jazz of the '20s and '30s. Today, we'll play some of the tracks from Muldaur's new album, Texas Sheiks, and he'll perform some songs live. Muldaur's band, also called Texas Sheiks, is currently on tour.


A Treasure Trove From A Harmonica Master

Walter Jacobs, aka "Little Walter," was a harmonica virtuoso whose life was consumed by blues music. A new five-disc Hip-O Select re-release of Walter's complete recordings for the record label Chess is on shelves now.


Green Goes Blue With 'Grant's First Stand'

Originally released in 1961, electric guitarist Grant Green's first album with Blue Note Records, Grant's First Stand, has been reissued. Green has a solid swinger's knack for skippy, airborne jazz rhythms, but some of his lines wouldn't sound out of place in a Chicago blues bar.


B.B. King Offers 'One Kind Favor'

Widely regarded as one of the best guitarists of all time, blues legend B.B. King is still recording at age 82. Music critic Milo Miles reviews King's newest album, One Kind Favor.


Bluesman Elvin Bishop, Rolling Stylishly On

Rock critic Ken Tucker reviews the guitarist and singer's new album, The Blues Rolls On. Released in early September, the disc includes collaborations with B.B. King, George Thorogood, James Cotton and more.


Catherine Russell: 'Real Thing' Gets Sentimental

Her father was Louis Armstrong's music director and a noted bandleader in his own right; her mother was a member of the iconic International Sweethearts of Rhythm. Critic Nat Hentoff says that pedigree — and her own unmistakable chops — make Cat Russell "the real thing" in a crowd of jazz wannabes "who couldn't lasted through a chorus in a contest with Ella Fitzgerald or Betty Carter."


Boogie-Woogie and Blues: Small Can Be Sweet

Fresh Air's jazz critic reviews a new CD box set, Boogie Woogie and Blues Piano, featuring remastered recordings from such greats as Chicago's Jimmy Yancy, Meade Lux Lewis, Pete Johnson and more — all solo or in small ensembles.


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