Spiders on keys, indeed. This past March the long awaited James Booker documentary, Bayou Maharajah, premiered at SXSW in Austin. It was met with widespread critical acclaim. I was first hipped to this bonafide New Orleans piano legend thirteen years ago via a live solo recording from the early 70s. And that was it — there was no turning back, I had to hear it all. Prior to the omnipotence of the Internet, much of Booker’s life outside of the recordings themselves was a mystery comprised of hearsay, exaggeration and half-truths. In fact, much of what I initially cribbed concerning the late Booker’s life was thanks to excerpts from the excellent (now back in print) Dr. John biography “Under a Hoodoo Moon.” Wild/fascinating tales that only stoked the Booker mythology.
I featured this 1978 live recording (from the Montreux Jazz Festival) back in October of 2005 as part of the original Live Upload Series. I’m re-upping it here. I’ve collected a number of live documents from this New Orleans piano master, and Live at Montreux is by far my favorite. Pearls on black velvet, the set is essential listening for Booker acolytes and New Orleans piano disciples alike. Very raw arrangements with Booker backed by a loose electric pick-up band that just swings. Download/tracklisting after the jump. . .
Download: James Booker :: Montreux Jazz Festival, July 1978 (zipped folder)
Medley: Pretty Baby/Winin’ Boy Blues
Medley: Penny Lane/I Saw Her Standing There
The Long Last Laugh
Look What I’ve Got
Medley: Tipitina/The Grass Looks Greener
Papa Was A Rascal
Let’s Make A Better World