Album Reviews

Clarence “Jelly” Johnson – Low Down Papa

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Clarence “Jelly” Johnson
Low Down Papa

(Delmark)

As far as rarities go, this stuff digs deep. This series of rediscovered 1920s-era piano rolls (those prickly cylinders that drive player pianos) by pianist Clarence “Jelly” Johnson were recorded in Chicago for the Capitol Music Roll Company, and now digitally revitalized for 2011 optimum sound quality. Johnson’s instrumental ragtime stomps like “It’s All Over Now” and tinkling shuffles like “Gulf Coast Blues” speak to the dexterous sunshine at his fingertips. Not a drab note in the set. An awakening to the “real” roots of Chicago blues, this set is a must for any die-hard blues purist.

—Mark Uricheck

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