Jimmy Burns & Eddie Taylor Jr.


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Born in Mississippi in 1943, Jimmy Burns is a contemporary bluesman who combines his Delta roots with R&B and soul for a sound uniquely his own. Burns moved to Chicago at age 12 and went on to contribute to both gospel and folk around town. With a melodic guitar style, soulful vocals, and expressive lyrics, Burns is a charismatic stage performer. After a long break from performing to raise a family, Jimmy Burns’s 1996 debut album went on to win “Best Blues Record of the Year” from the National Association of Independent Record Distributors. Burns has since contributed to his renowned brother Detroit bluesman Eddie Burns’s albums and continues to please audiences around the globe. His bluesy performance of the Ben E. King classic “Stand By Me” is a crowd favorite.

Eddie Taylor Jr. has never been shy about proclaiming his inheritance—his father was one of the most revered guitarists of Chicago’s postwar era, laying his unerring rhythms and subtly inventive chord patterns behind Jimmy Reed on most of Reed’s most important recordings, and showcasing his tasteful, country-rooted improvisational imagination on his own now-classic sides (“Big Town Playboy,” “Bad Boy”) on Vee-Jay. But the younger Taylor, unlike various other blues “Jr.s” who’ve popped up over the years, is no mere imitator: his solos, although tasteful and chordally rich like his father’s, unfurl in elegant, modernist contours, arcing gracefully above a song’s melodic line in patterns that reflect the influence of post-T-Bone Walker stylists like B.B. King as much the Delta-rooted Chicagoans of Eddie Sr.’s generation. His recordings, mostly on the Austrian Wolf label, haven’t always showcased him to his best advantage—although his own gifts have usually shone brightly, he’s sometimes been saddled with sidemen whose idea of “authenticity” is to churn out by-the-numbers recreations of licks and riffs absorbed from vintage 45s. Nonetheless, he’s developed impressively as a songwriter—his vignettes of love fought for, won, and lost are spiked with wit and leavened with compassion and in performance, where he has the opportunity to goad his sidemen if they need it, he can summon the juke-honed rawness of traditional Chicago blues along with the tasteful sparseness and unobtrusively propulsive rhythmic impetus that characterized the genre at its best his blues, despite the retro-elegance of his style, are resolutely in and of the present. – by David Whiteis

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