October 04, 2005

James Booker And The Lloyd Price Band (Replay)


"Ooh-Pee-Day" (James Booker)
The Lloyd Price Band with James Booker,
from This Is My Band, 1963


Hard to believe, but I started this blog on October 14, 2004. I’ve never thought too very far ahead on it; and now a year’s almost past. Recently, besides dodging hurricanes, I’ve been busy starting up a new small business; so I thought I’d save a little time and do a replay of a few of the posts I started off with a year ago, because I am sure many of you hadn’t discovered HOTG back then. If you have been with me since the beginning, please let me know how you’ve been able to tolerate it so long.

First up is a one cut from my first audio posting (two songs from the same LP), from October 18, 2004. I’ve updated and revised the background information.

"Ooh-Pee-Day" is taken from This Is My Band, a rare LP released in 1963 by the Lloyd Price Band on the Double L label, which was operated by Lloyd and his partner, Harold Logan. The organist for this session was none other than the late, eccentric New Orleans keyboard genius, James Booker. The LP is an all instrumental outing; and, incredibly, Booker is featured on four tracks as a soloist doing his own compositions, never recorded anywhere else, as far as I know. Beside our feature, they include "Number Four"; "Soulful Waltz"; and "Pan Setta".

James Booker made a string of earlier instrumental organ recordings for Peacock and Duke between 1960-1962, after doing one for Ace, “Teenage Rock”, in 1957. The most famous of these is his one 'hit', "Gonzo". I originally chose "Ooh-Pee-Day" to post because of it’s rarity, rather than for it’s almost cheesy Latin groove, sounding like a record my parents might have played at one of their cha-cha parties when I was a kid in the 1950’s. The song’s title even sounds like pig-Latin. Booker’s other tunes on the LP have a swing feel, so this one stands out from the pack. While the big band arrangement works well, there is nothing that overtly says “New Orleans” to you on this one; but since the prodigal prodigyBooker was in part a product of the city, and because Lloyd Price, himself a New Orleans native, retained other hometown talent in his band (though it was located in Los Angeles at the time), the selection safely resides in the Home of the Groove.

I first became aware of this LP in the late 1980's when
Emerson Able, a Memphis musician and educator, called me on my show and asked if I had heard it. When I told him I hadn't, he loaned me his well-worn copy. After that, I searched for years for the record, finally finding a copy in a little neighborhood used record store in Seattle, when I was visiting. It was worth the search for those Booker tracks. The rest of the album cuts, while fine performances, aren't particularly of interest to me. You may feel differently, should you choose to seek it out.

Those familiar with his work will note that Booker’s organ playing is much more subdued and straightforward than his flamboyant, multi-dimensional paino excursions. In fact, his organ playing, while fun ot hear, is about as straight as he ever got. If you haven't heard him on the piano, you are missing something truly remarkable, a mixture of dazzling expertise, humor, soul, and abandon that, at its best, is mind-blowing. I need to post some of that one of these days real soon . . .

Larry Grogan's overview of Booker's Duke and Peacock sides
Tuff City has a comp of Booker's 45s from 1954-1961


Blogger Larry Grogan said...

Very cool! I gotta find a copy of this album.
Thanks for posting this.

12:20 PM, October 04, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

merci beaucoup sir

4:23 AM, October 06, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Incredible stuff indeed. James Booker was a magnificent keyboardist, and to me, I kind of think of him as "The Art Tatum of New Orleans". And we know what he said of Art Tatum when he lost his left eye!!!

The King of the New Orleans Keyboard is an aptly named title for the late, great James Booker.

4:52 PM, October 09, 2005  
Blogger Dan Phillips said...

Yeah you right, Steven.

12:05 PM, October 10, 2005  
Anonymous KatheenZB said...

I have seen, Van Cliburn, Liberace, Elton John, Ramsey Lewis, Ray Charles, Allen Toussaint, Jerry Lee Lewis, Fats Domino, etc. All are/were very good...but Booker--in a class by himself.

1:33 AM, January 29, 2011  
Blogger Dan Phillips said...

Wow, Kathleen, n'uff said. I think out of that list the most outrageous piano duel would have to be between Booker and Liberace!

10:14 AM, January 29, 2011  
Anonymous KathleenZB said...

Agreed...Liberace was a fine pianist...still remember his half hour TV shows.(Lordy, that was a long time ago...) Just wish Booker had some of the same exposure!!

12:56 AM, April 26, 2011  

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