James Booker is easily my favourite New Orleans pianist and in light of the anniversary of his passing (I’m a few days late, I hope it still counts), I wanted to do a quick post about him.
Booker is an influential figure in New Orleans music and during his career, he
played with many renowned artists such as Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, Dr.
John, Ringo Starr, Fats Domino, Stevie Wonder and many others. Unfortunately,
he’s hardly known outside of New Orleans. I hope I can help change that a
little bit with this post.
In my opinion, his piano playing is just a perfect combination of New Orleans R’n’B, Blues and Jazz. He takes the best parts of each and puts them together. I love how his music is so rich and full, but never too intense. For example, I love the complexities of Art Tatum’s piano playing, but he can be overwhelming, so I’m not always in the mood for his music. On the other hand, I’m always in the mood for James Booker.
Here are two examples of his music. If you like him you should get an album of his, like Junco Partner or a compilation of some kind. I don’t think you’ll regret it. You’ll get your own taste of New Orleans piano at its best.