Pinetop Perkins

At age 95, Mississippi Delta-born pianist Pinetop Perkins is still an active performer and one who is still able to hit his piano's keys with amazing dexterity. The proof is in this beauty of a blues CD, on which the veteran shares the spotlight with an array of friends and admirers. Take, for instance, his playful duet with B.B. King on "Down in Mississippi." King plays his trademark riffs against the pianist's vocals, and the song reaches a climax as both musicians play hair-raising solos that have us reaching for the repeat button as soon as the track is over. Eric Clapton lends his economical guitar stylings to "How Long Blues/Baby Come Back," which also features beautiful vocals from Nora Jean Bruso. Another highlight is the Muddy Waters staple "Hoochie Coochie Man," a tune written by sadly underrated bassist Willie Dixon. Texas blues veteran Jimmie Vaughan handles the lead guitar here, singing the chorus in unison with Perkins (Vaughan — Stevie Ray's older brother — appears on three tracks). Listen also to "Barefootin'," an up-tempo blues that has a burning slide guitar from Eric Sardinas, who also shares the vocals on an intensely hot rendition of "Got My Mojo Working." At a time when rock-based tunes pass for blues, Pinetop Perkins and Friends is one hell of a refresher on how it's really supposed to be done.

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