Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The French Connection by Rick Davis

The French Connection
Zora Young
Delmark Records
14 Tracks

In my estimation Delmark has found the new "Queen Of The Blues"! Zora Young a very talented Chicago blues and gospel singer recently released an electric/acoustic/live CD titled The French Connection.

Young, who is a distant relative of Howlin' Wolf, moved from West Point, Mississippi to Chicago at the age of seven and got her start as gospel singer at the Greater Harvest Baptist Church. As an adult, she ventured into the R&B music scene, playing with blues greats Junior Wells, Jimmy Dawkins, Bobby Rush, Buddy Guy, Albert King, Professor Eddie Lusk, and B. B. King. She has a list of collaboration on albums with artists like Willie Dixon, Sunnyland Slim, Mississippi Heat, Paul DeLay, and Maurice John Vaughan.

Young has also performed on both the live stage and television. As veteran of more than 30 tours of Europe, Zora has been a featured performer three times at the Chicago Blues Festival. She has performed concerts throughout North America, and on stages in Italy, Germany, Belgium, Sweden, France, Switzerland, Greece, Austria, Tai Pei, and Turkey.

The French Connection is her third cd with Delmark Records. The successful completion of the CD is due in part to producer Chris Dussuchaud and musical director Bobby Dirninger who assembled three different bands for three different sounds. She opens with the funky electric tune penned by producer Dick Shurman "I'm In Love With You". Following the opening track, she sings Sunnyland Slim's "Goin' Back To Memphis". The first live cut is a superb tribute to the late great Koko Taylor, with Willie Dixon's tune "Wang Dang Doodle". Her power blues voice is evident in Dirninger's original "I'm In Love With You". She is backed by some of best guitar and Hammond B-3 instrumentals that I have heard on recent CD. The next live cut features an incredible slide guitar solo in the Muddy Water's Mississippi delta style tune "Honey Bee". Zora's voice is absolutely perfect in this rendition that Muddy would be certainly be proud to hear. Young follows with Bob Dylan's country blues number "Tonight I'll be Staying With You" which she does as duet with Bobby Dirninger. Her gospel roots are evident in the traditional "A Closer Walk With Thee". Young's voice in Ma Rainy's "See See Rider" blends well with the core of professional musicians surrounding her. Her next tune begins with dialogue leading into the Mac Davis/Elvis Presley hit "In The Ghetto". The next tune in this showcase of music is the hit "Mystery Train" a song written by Junior Parker and Sam Phillips. The next live tune is an incredible rendition of a Hank Snow's hit "I'm Movin' On". This version has arrangement for horns, piano, and a flawless guitar solo. Back to back live cuts feature Young's own song "Toxic" displaying the real "power" of her blues voice. This number features one of best trumpet solos that I have heard on a blues cut with Olivier Bridot on trumpet. The cd concludes with a second acoustic version of "Goin' Back To Memphis" followed a live performance of the B.B. King / Joe Josea hit "Rock Me". This last song alone will convince any blues lover that this lady could indeed be the new "Queen of The Blues".

If you need a first class collection of blues, gospel, soul, Mississippi Blues, and country blues, this cd is must for any collection. A famous quote comes to mind after listening to this cd - "If you don't dig the blues you got a hole in your soul"... Albert King.

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