Blind Pig Records
Henry Gray arrived in Chicago in 1946 after serving his country in the Pacific. He built on the influence of Big Maceo and was one of the piano stalwarts of the era. He was an artist on many Chess and VeeJay records and spent a dozen years with Howlin’ Wolf’s band, but he returned home to Louisiana in 1968 when the blues fell on some hard times.
He returned to the recording world for a rare album in 1988 which is re-released here by Blind PIg; back in Chicago at Acme Studio to play with some great band mates, Gray gave some superb performances. Steve Freund on guitar, Bob Stroger on bass except for two cuts with Andy Cornett, and Willie Smith on drums. Gray had lost nothing over the 20 years he was gone. His fingers tickle the ivories so very well. I have seen him play live and this CD really captures his fantastic sound near it’s peak. What it also captures are some moving vocals by Mr. Gray. He growls and starches out some meaty lyrical lines while beating the keys oh so well.
If you are new to Henry’s charm, go grab this. And if you need some CD’s of his to round out your record collection, this would be a fine place to start. Just listen to the tile track, “Mean Old World” or any of the cuts and you will be sold immediately!
Reviewed by Steve Jones