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Floyd McDaniel: West Side Baby

Guitarist Floyd McDaniel was 79 years old when he played at the Breminale Blues Nights Festival in Bremen, Germany on May 21, 1994. The grand ol’ hipster passed away the following year but a document of that live gig has been released as West Side Baby (Delmark DE-706; 60:36). The influences of Charlie Christian, T-Bone Walker and Tiny Grimes can be heard in McDaniel’s mellow, jazz-inflected approach to the blues. His rendition of “St. Louis Blues” swings lithely and his vocals go down like single malt scotch-smooth but with a decided bite. Accompanied by Chicago guitarist Dave Specter and The Bluebirds, McDaniel lends his finesse and soul to easy swinging renditions of “Route 66,” “Everyday I Have The Blues,” “Red Top” and the inevitable “Sweet Home Chicago.” Dig the calypso version of T-Bone’s “Mean Old World.” And how hip to quote Monk’s “Well, You Needn’t” on his solo to “St. Louis Blues.” Of course, Floyd probably knew Monk personally. A founding member of the Four Blazes, a popular jive group from the ’40s and ’50s, he played at the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair, opened for Cab Calloway at the Cotton Club and jammed on the street with Lionel Hampton and Ben Webster in the early ’40s. This cat has indeed been around and he was still swinging right up to the end. Fans of swing-blues would be wise to check this one out.

Originally Published