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The Best & The Rest | This Week’s Top Blues & Jazz Releases

Wild Billy Childish visits the Delta, Sonny Landreth hits the highway and more.


Like every week, I snagged a handful of blues and jazz albums to check out. But only a few turned my crank. So here they are, in order of preference:


Wild Billy Childish & The Chatham Singers
Kings Of The Medway Delta

MY TWO CENTS: The ridiculously prolific English singer-guitarist — who is also a painter, writer, poet, photographer, filmmaker, rabble-rouser, iconoclast and all-around shit-disturber when he isn’t making music — gets bluesy on his umpteen-zillionth album of lo-fi, bare-knuckle fare since he began recording four decades ago. This album sounds like it could have been made 80 years ago — which is about the biggest compliment I could pay it.

THE PRESS RELEASE: “This album follows CTMF’s Last Punk Standing LP and is something of a left turn. What prompted the decision to make a blues album? I’ve been making blues recordings since the early 1980s. We’ve made a few Chatham Singers LPs over the years and I’ve been meaning to record another and just got round to it. I’m still making regular CTMF recordings at the same sessions; it’s just the fun of working with different sounds. I was listening to Slim Harpo (Got Love If You Want It) in a cafe, Jim form Ranscombe Studios was having a coffee and I said ‘This is a great song, we should try to get that echo chamber going.’ Next day he said he’d been messing with it and I said ‘Right, let’s record!’ How does this differ from the previous two Chatham Singers albums? Less country, no poetry, more developed sound, otherwise the same. It features fantastic blues harp playing by guest player Jim Riley. We got the sound of that Chess Studios echo chamber.”


Sonny Landreth
Blacktop Run

MY TWO CENTS: If you love the blues, zydeco and some seriously great slide guitar playing, you can’t go wrong with Sonny Landreth. The southern vet’s umpteenth album is divided between instrumental fare that lets him showcase his prodigious skills and vocal numbers to keep things from getting too wanky. I’d like to think this would be the album that helps him break through to a bigger audience, but who am I kidding? Just be happy you’ve got the good sense and taste to like him.

THE PRESS RELEASE:Sonny Landreth’s new album Blacktop Run mixes genres and styles across a landscape of lyricism and rootsy grooves. It’s his 3rd album for blues connaisseur label Provogue, and his 14th overall. A percussive burst of acoustic resonator guitar pushes the narrator on a journey “between the life I left and the edge of next” in the title cut. As the singer feels the wind at his back, a rising bass line intersects Landreth’s vocalizing to stretch the fingerpicked tune into Far Eastern melodicism.The south Louisiana artist’s groundbreaking work has long mixed familiarity with experimentation, and his latest ten-song collection stretches from hard-edged electric instrumentals to wistful acoustic ballads. The project’s range is the fruit of a renewed collaboration. Producer RS Field – who helmed Landreth’s trio of breakout albums – joined the six-stringer and co-producer Tony Daigle to finish the record.”

Dave Sewelson
More Music For A Free World

MY TWO CENTS: New York jazz man Dave Sewelson wields a big, barking baritone sax, while bassist William Parker, drummer Marvin Bugalu Smith and trombonist Steve Swell cook behind him magnificently on a trio of epic-length free jazz workouts.

THE PRESS RELEASE: “The music here is completely improvised. Maybe someone was going to tell the musicians to try to make some shorter pieces, less challenging for a casual listener but they didn’t. Perhaps someone said, let the drums kick this one off or “go” but no instruction was given. These sounds come out of the silence that is already swinging. The results show what has been known since 2017, that when these four musicians start playing together the result is exquisite music. Call it chemistry, collaboration, community but it is contagious. The music is presented as it happened on that December day in Brooklyn.”