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Boss of the Blues


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Performer Notes
  • Personnel: Big Joe Turner (vocals); Freddie Green (guitar); Pete Brown (alto saxophone); Seldon Powell, Frank Wess (tenor saxophone); Joe Newman, Jimmy Nottingham (trumpet); Lawrence Brown (trombone); Pete Johnson (piano); Walter Page (bass); Cliff Leeman (drums).
  • Originally released on Atlantic (1234). Includes liner notes by Whitney Balliett.
  • Widely considered to be one of Big Joe Turner's finest albums, 1956's THE BOSS OF THE BLUES finds the hefty Missouri-born singer working through the blues in Kansas City jazz style. Turner is reunited with his old partner from the '30s and '40s, pianist Pete Johnson, making this a particularly poignant recording. As in their earlier days, Turner's booming voice and Johnson's boogie-tinged piano lines complement each other perfectly, as best revealed on lightly swinging reworkings of signature tunes such as "Low Down Dog" and "Wee Baby Blues." These songs were notable departures from Turner's proto-rock-&-roll hits of that era ("Shake, Rattle and Roll," "Honey Hush," etc.), proving that he was equally at home with blues, jazz, and (what would become) rock. In addition to the stellar performances by Turner and Johnson, BOSS also features a tight backing ensemble consisting of veterans of Count Basie's band, including tenor saxophonist Frank Wess and trumpeter Joe Newman.
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