Archive for the Champion Jack DUPREE Category

Champion Jack DUPREE – Blues From The Gutter 1958

Posted in BLUES, Champion Jack DUPREE on November 24, 2010 by whoisthemonk

Champion Jack DUPREE – Blues From The Gutter 1958
Recorded NYC, February 4, 1958
1992 Issue. Atl. 7 82434-2


‘Blues From the Gutter’, recorded in 1958, is easily the best work of New Orleans’ pianist-singer Champion Jack Dupree and also a blues masterpiece.
Although the powerful songs deal with the dark side of life the music is strangely uplifting.
Produced by Jerry Wexler with a brilliant band featuring stunning solos from alto saxophonist Pete Brown and guitarist Ennis Lowery(aka Larry Dale) this album is an essential part of any blues collection.
Strange coincidence that Blues From The Gutter should come up for review now. Champion Jack Dupree was introduced to me at last year’s Nerdcon and I’ve just recently returned from the latest jolly boy’s outing with another batch of obscure CDs to invest in. Who knows, I may get around to reviewing those in another twelve months! But, if they’re anywhere close to being as good as Blues From The Gutter, they will be well worth waiting for.

I can’t think of any other musical genre where the lives of its early pioneers reflect so closely the tone and character of the music itself. As a genre, the blues evolved from an amalgam of working songs and spirituals mostly in deprived and depressed areas. As a result blues practitioners tended to be poor, hard-bitten, itinerant, with a predilection for booze and/or drugs and enough tales of woe to fill a handful of life stories. In that regard, Champion Jack Dupree fits the prescribed template perfectly.

Born in New Orleans in the early part of the last century Dupree was orphaned after losing his parents in a fire. He learned his barrelhouse piano style from frequenting local juke joints and watching the technique of other blues artists. To make ends meet he boxed professionally for a period of time, hence the title “Champion”. He was in the Navy during World War II, was captured and spent a couple of years in a Japanese POW camp. On his return to the States he decided to pursue a music career and was willing to uproot himself to Europe to do it. In later life he returned to the country of his birth and passed away in 1992. Not exactly an average life!

And that’s reflected in the subject matter on Blues From The Gutter – which proves to be a very apt title. Death, drugs, sex and disease, a grim cocktail that Dupree manages to mix with equal amounts of gravitas, humour and regret. “Can’t Kick The Habit” and “Junker’s Blues” brilliantly tread the line between the allure of marijuana and cocaine (the former of which was not illegal at the time) and their ultimately debilitating effects. “T.B. Blues” tells the tale of a man dying from the dreadful disease while “Bad Blood” and “Nasty Boogie” are deliciously salacious and racy. One interesting point about the tracks, the original sleeve notes lists Dupree as having written “Frankie And Johnny” and “Stack-O-Lee”. Now I readily admit my knowledge of the blues isn’t all that great but I’m pretty sure both songs can be traced back much farther than Dupree. Maybe the scale of Dupree’s arrangements meant he could claim some kind of adaptation credit but it does seem a little odd to me.

As a whole Blues From The Gutter manages to capture that evocative atmosphere that seems to be the purview of the blues. It’s raw, it’s rough and it’s overflowing with feeling and spirit and an innate knowledge of its own historical roots. Dupree’s backing band may not be the greatest to have gravitated out of genre but they have to be given massive credit for contributing to the overall feel of the music. This is a fabulous album by a colourful and talented artist and reaffirms how important to me the blues has become.
By Grampus.
The 1958 masterwork album of Champion Jack Dupree’s long and prolific career. Cut in New York (in stereo!) with a blasting band that included saxist Pete Brown and guitarist Ennis Lowery, the Jerry Wexler-produced Atlantic collection provides eloquent testimony to Dupree’s eternal place in the New Orleans blues and barrelhouse firmament. There’s some decidedly down-in-the-alley subject matter — Can’t Kick the Habit, T.B. Blues, a revival of Junker’s Blues — along with the stomping Nasty Boogie and treatments of the ancient themes
Stack-O-Lee and Frankie & Johnny.
By Bill Dahl. AMG.
Champion Jack Dupree (piano, vocal);
Pete Brown (alto sax);
Ennis Lowery (guitar);
Wendell Marshall (bass);
Willie Jones (drums).
01. Strollin’  3:01
02. T.B. Blues  3:42
03. Can’t Kick the Habit  3:43
04. Evil Woman  4:21
05. Nasty Boogie  3:10
06. Junker’s Blues  3:12
07. Bad Blood  3:59
08. Goin’ Down Slow  4:04
09. Frankie & Johnny  3:23
10 Stack-O-Lee  3:56

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Champion Jack DUPREE – The Women Blues Of Champion Jack Dupree 1961

Posted in BLUES, Champion Jack DUPREE on November 22, 2010 by whoisthemonk

Champion Jack DUPREE – The Women Blues Of Champion Jack Dupree 1961
FWX 53825
April 8, 1961 in Zürich, Switzerland


I hung around my friends and smoked reefer
and I thought I was doin’ all right
Yes I hung around my friends and smoked reefer
and I thought I was doin’ all right
Now I done lost a good woman
And I have no place to sleep at night
William Thomas Dupree, 4 July 1910, New Orleans, Louisiana, USA, d. 21 January 1992, Hanover, Germany. (Dupree’s birth date is the matter of some conjecture and is sometimes listed as 23 July 1909). Orphaned in infancy, Dupree was raised in the Colored Waifs Home for Boys until the age of 14. After leaving, he led a marginal existence, singing for tips, and learning piano from musicians such as Willie “Drive-’em-down” Hall. Dupree also became a professional boxer, and blended fighting with hoboing throughout the 30s, before retiring from the ring in 1940, and heading for New York. Initially, he travelled only as far as Indianapolis, where he joined with musicians who had been associates of Leroy Carr. Dupree rapidly became a star of the local black entertainment scene, as a comedian and dancer as well as a musician. He acquired a residency at the local Cotton Club, and partnered comedienne Ophelia Hoy. In 1940, Dupree made his recording debut, with music that blended the forceful, barrelhouse playing and rich, Creole-accented singing of New Orleans with the more suave style of Leroy Carr. Not surprisingly, a number of titles were piano/guitar duets, although on some, Jesse Ellery’s use of amplification pointed the way forward. A few songs covered unusual topics, such as the distribution of grapefruit juice by relief agencies, or the effects of drugs.
Dupree’s musical career was interrupted when he was drafted into the US Navy as a cook; even so he managed to become one of the first blues singers to record for the folk revival market while on leave in New York in 1943. Dupree’s first wife died while he was in the navy, and he took his discharge in New York, where he worked as a club pianist, and formed a close musical association with Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee. His own post-war recording career commenced with a splendid series of solo recordings for Joe Davis, on some of which the influence of Peetie Wheatstraw is very evident. More typical were the many tracks with small groups recorded thereafter for a number of labels from 1946-53, and for King Records between April 1953 and late 1955. As ever, these recordings blend the serious with the comic, the latter somewhat tastelessly on songs such as “Tongue Tied Blues” and “Harelip Blues”. “Walking The Blues”, a comic dialogue with Teddy “Mr Bear” McRae, was a hit on King, and the format was repeated on a number of titles recorded for RCA Records’ Vik and Groove. In 1958, Dupree made his last American recordings until 1990; “Blues From The Gutter” appears to have been aimed at white audiences, as was Dupree’s career thereafter. In 1959, he moved to Europe, and lived in Switzerland, England, Sweden and Germany, touring extensively and recording prolifically, with results that varied from the excellent to the mediocre. This served both as a stamp of authenticity and as a licensed jester to the European blues scene. The tracks on the 1993 release One Last Time were drawn from Dupree’s final recording session before his death the previous year.
Champion Jack Dupree- vocal, Piano;
Chris Lange- Guitar;
Fritz Rüegg- Bass;
Bobby Reutwiler- Washboard.
A1. Ain”t That a Shame  4:25
A2. Talk to Me Baby  4:20
A3. Tell Me When  2:25
A4. Old Woman Blues  4:20
A5. Hard Feelings Blues  4:05
B1. Bus Station Blues  2:50
B2. Rattlesnake Boogie  3:10
B3. Black Wolf Blues  3:05
B4. Jail House  4:10
B5. Come Back Baby  3:35
B6. My Way to Moe Asch  4:35

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