Bassist Willie Kent has been a mainstay on the Chicago scene since the ’50s. He’s played sideman to just about everybody and has released a few albums as a leader. His latest, Long Way To Ol’ Miss (Delmark DE-696; 63:33) kicks ass while staying strictly in the Chicago blues tradition. Kent’s big-chested deep soul vocals add Delta punch to driving shuffles like “Blues In My Bedroom” and “Dirty Work.” Guest guitarist James Wheeler plays sweetly on “Extension 309” while Kenny Barker and Ken Saydak add that all-important Chicago piano sound that Roosevelt Sykes made famous. But the secret weapon in this band is killer guitarist Vernon “Chico” Banks, who is turned loose with a vengeance on “What You’re Doin’ To Me,” “Ain’t Got Long To Stay” and “Black Night.” His stinging blues-rock tendencies enliven these tracks. Expect to be seeing a solo recording from this guitar slinger in the near future.