I’ve slipped in my two workouts of the day (a 3000m strength swim and a 60 minute easy ride with a local riding buddy) and I’ve had my dinner of a delicious cold peanut noodle salad. I then did my tour of duty in the comfy chair cuddling in front of an episode of ‘Chopped Junior‘ with HRH while mommy is out carousing with her girlfriends and now HRH has her nose buried in her “woob-woob” (iPad) – *sigh* – so I finally have some quiet time to enjoy the ‘Blues and Boogie Woogie Piano, Duets and Solos‘ album by Jimmy Walker and Erwin Helfer.
I admit it, I have a bit of an affinity for old school boogie woogie, honky-tonk, Dixieland and jazz piano and a small collection of them I’ve acquired over my years of collecting. These are usually the albums you would see on sale for about 50 cents at your local second hand shop or Goodwill. Me? I love ’em.
They’re kinda my guilty pleasure vinyl-wise.
Lord knows where I even found this album. I might have originally purchased it because of the “Flying Fish 001” label at the top which I likely figured made the album pretty rare. It’s not unfortunately. I now know that Flying Fish is a popular Chicago-based eclectic blues and country record label. Oh well, what did I know?
It’s still a great album.
Anyway, Erwin Helfer is a Chicago boogie woogie innovator and master, who has been forged his own piano music legacy over playing and performing for over forty years. And Jimmy Walker? Well, he’s not this guy:
No, he’s way cooler than that.
Walker himself is a veteran of the early Chicago blues scene from the rent-party days of the 20’s through to the postwar 50’s although it wasn’t until 1964 that Jimmy was ever able to be heard on any album.
This album was released in 1974 after Walker and Helfer were approached by Bruce Kaplan of Rounder Records (how it ended up on the Flying Fish label I have no idea) to do an album together after they had appeared together at the 1973 University of Chicago Folk Festival. I guess the two agreed and the rest is history.
The album is more or less a collection of odd blues and boogie woogie piano standards like ‘The Dirty Dozen‘ which has been covered by others like Count Basie and Speckled Red, ‘Pinetop Boogie‘ (Pinetop Smith), ‘Sweet Patootie‘ (Doug Suggs) and ‘Mr. Freddie‘ (Freddie Shayne). Other tunes are either Walker or Helfer originals, or as with ‘Booging the Alvino‘, a duet featuring both musicians.
It’s a neat listen to be sure. It’s not likely something you’re going to throw on for your friends, true, but as a mellow listening option while relaxing with a good book while the kid looses herself in endless YouTube videos, you could do no better.