Artist: Professor Longhair
Album: Live in Chicago
Label: Orleans Records
Release Date: 04/15/2016
Despite a bevy of anthologies to rival the likes of Hank, Professor Longhair seems to only get the textbook accolades and a handful of retrospectives in regards to his live performances. However, The Professor’s 1976 performance memorialized in Live In Chicago is an absolutely flaming testament to the live prowess of the cat that started it all on the black and whites.
Fearless as ever, Longhair rips through the New Orleans standards like there ain’t no tomorrow, pummeling “Tipitina” and “Big Chief” like they were duck soup. Longhair is coy about his skills on record, as he could assuredly blow away any number of musicians even in the waning hours of his performing years. Yet his coyness doesn’t emanate from withholding extended jams or howling through his championed set. Rather, Longhair is incredibly prescient. He’s perhaps the first legacy act that continued to be hip in a market ready to embrace his brand of outlandish mambo-boogie-woogie by continuing to play all the early essentials considered to be square.
Live In Chicago is half an hour of unadulterated cool. It’s nearly 25 minutes longer than one needs to discover such a fact about Professor Longhair, but a short sentiment works as the highlight of the ’76 Chicago Folk Festival. Longhair worked his magic all throughout his career, but this record is where ‘Fess truly got his mojo in order.
– Jake Tully