Meade_lux_lewis-cat_house_piano_span3
November 1998

Meade Lux Lewis
Cat House Piano
Verve

The title reflects what has almost amounted to an obsession among producers of jazz albums that go all the way back to early New Orleans piano. One can only wonder whether the urgent boogie woogie style was appreciated in brothels. Meade Lux Lewis, in any case, sounds repetitious and mechanical, as though he were weary of the idiom's limitations. The heavily percussive, stiff-fingered treble accenting on too many of the numbers at the 1965 session quickly sounds tiresome. The kind of purposeful drive Pete Johnson and Albert Ammons always assured is lacking. Nor is there much emotional content of the kind Jimmy Yancey inspired. This despite the admirable support provided by Red Callender and Jo Jones.

The second session, recorded a year earlier, has Louie Bellson on drums and opens more promisingly with "Spooney Sam." Fittingly, there is more feeling on "Yancey's Last Ride" before the finale, a rattling rideout entitled "Bush Street Boogie."

Originally published in November 1998
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