LITTLE ARTHUR DUNCAN                                                                                                               Live at Rosa’s Blues Lounge                                                                                                        Delmark DE 793

This is the “audio only” version of a gig last year – the video version is DVD 1793 – at one of the still functioning blues bars in Chicago. Duncan is one of the many part-time warriors who has risen to greater public notice with age, working within the given parameters of so-called “Chicago blues”! Now, Chicago ain’t what it used to be regarding the state of the blues – while still a factor in the Black neighborhood bars, many of the musos today are White guys – in fact all but Duncan are such on this CD. Well trained in the style, indeed, but no longer “local” in the way they used to be. Well recorded on the West Side, for those with that sort of interest, get the DVD and see it.

Still, this is a good album of basic “Chicago” blues – the repertoire is from the Chicago songbook (beginning in the 40s with songs from Dr. Clayton [“I Got to Find my Baby”], and Roosevelt Sykes [“44 Blues”]) played in a tight pocket that’s appropriate for a local and its dancing audience. Little Al Thomas takes the vocal on the Dr. Clayton song, probably happened to be there and asked up to do a song or two! Nothing earth-shattering, just good blues tunes well performed on a night last August… imagine Jimmy Reed on a REALLY good night! This is what blues music is really about, folks – not how many notes one can cram into each musical bar. MS born Duncan is a solid player and decent singer with no fireworks or high-level technique; he just gets the job done to everyone’s satisfaction. Even yours, if you pick this album up!!

p.s. – Sadly, word has recently come through that Duncan has died in Chicago… this is a worthy memorial to this journeyman.


pub: RHYTHMS, #194; Sep 2008 – p.83

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