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MP3 Jimmy "T99" Nelson, Duke Robillard, Sax Gordon, Doug James, - The Legend

Swinging Driving Texas Blues, with a jazz twist that''ll knock you out.

11 MP3 Songs
BLUES: Texas Style, BLUES: Rhythm & Blues

Spin Control
August 7, 2005
Among the last of the great blues shouters, Jimmy "T99" Nelson was
responsible for the 1950s hits "T99 Blues" and "Meet Me With Your Black Dress On," but never received a promotional push commensurate with his talent. The protege of Big Joe Turner has seen his classic Kent and RPM sides re-released in recent years, but the 86-year-old Philadelphia native can still bring his A game into the studio, as he proves on "The Legend." Recorded live at Duke''s Mood Room, Duke Robillard''s home recording studio in Pawtucket, R.I., "The Legend" gets significant contributions from guitarist Robillard as well as Robillard''s fellow Roomful of Blues alums such as harpist Sugar Ray Norcia, pianist Matt McCabe and tenor man Sax Gordon. Front and center, though, is the voice of Nelson, alternately rich, smoky, countrified or folksy. The material fits him like a velvet glove, too. There''s an atmospheric "Sleepy Time Down South" that''s just crying out for inclusion on a movie soundtrack, a rollicking good-time version of Louis Jordan''s "Run Joe" and a kick-ass reading of Willie Dixon''s "Help Me." It all adds up to the feel-good blues album of the year to date.
-Jeff Johnson

Jimmy "T99" Nelson: Legend (Nettie Marie)
One of the most satisfying comebacks in recent years has been the re-emergence of big voiced blues singer Jimmy "T99" Nelson. Nelson is a Houston legend who earned his moniker back in 1951 with his immortal chart topper ''T-99 Blues." "Legend" is Nelson''s third record since his terrific 1999 comeback, "Rockin'' and Shoutin'' The Blues", and finds him once again in top form.

Blessed with a thick, booming voice and a hip delivery Nelson waxed a batch of fine platters for Modern in the early 50''s but only scored big with the aforementioned "T-99 Blues." Thankfully Ace has seen fit to reissue this material on the marvelous "Cry Hard Luck: The RPM And Kent Recordings 1951-61." After Modern, Nelson bounced through a number of small labels before giving up music in the 60''s. It wasn''t until the 80''s that he decided to refocus his energies on music playing locally and making some guest appearances on records and at festivals. Now well into his comeback, the ageless blues crooner has turned out another batch of crisply written blues originals delivered with that impeccable phrasing and delivery, making it sound all so easy.

While he never achieved the success of his one time mentor, Big Joe Turner, Nelson resides firmly in the tradition of those big voiced blues belters who dominated the charts in the late 40''s and 50''s. What sets Nelson apart is a hip delivery and an unerring ability to to lay down a deep, swinging, irresistible groove. Nelson also happens to be a terrific blues composer delivering perfectly crafted 3 to 4 minute songs with a storyteller''s gift, packed with plenty of humor and a poet''s gift for wordplay. It''s a winning combination that''s has remained intact through the years. Backing Nelson, as they did on his prior albums, is a swinging eight piece band composed of ex-Roomful of Blues members including Duke Robillard on guitar. There''s also a very good uncredited harp player who shines on a few numbers. Nelson is in fine fettle and gets things started with the moody slow groover "The Devil''s Sending Up A Blessing To You" a hilarious morality tale of bad luck that he delivers with impeccable phrasing: "Your fishing boat''s sinking/You swim like a rock Repeat after me, nearer my God to thee/You''re looking at hell and hell''s looking right back at you/The devil''s sending a blessing up to you." Nelson and the boys lock into irresistible groove on swinging, risque numbers like "My Country Woman" and "One Step At A Time" while "Be Knowing What I Got To Do" sports a tougher, downhome feel with some strong amplified harp. Nelson has a penchant for tackling standards and lays down a dreamy, Louie Armstrong inspired version of the lovely "Sleepy Time Down South."

I''ve been an unabashed fan of Nelson''s ever since I first heard a collection of those classics Modern sides many years ago. Everything that makes those records so timeless, the witty wordplay, the unerring phrasing and swing are still evident in Nelson''s current recordings. "Legend", like all of Neslon''s slim output, comes highly recommended.

The word "legend" gets dropped so often-especially in the music business that pundits could quibble forever over its various applications. But most folks would agree that any artist truly worthy of that title must be extraordinary in at least three respects: talent, originality, and longevity. This new recording by the amazing Jimmy "T99" Nelson proves once again that the big blues singer with the poet''s gift for turning a phrase is the real deal. His legendary talent has been documented since he first recorded in 1948, but Nelson truly established himself as a major figure, both as vocalist and songwriter, with hit songs that charted in 1951 and 1952. Among those was "T99 Blues," the original composition that earned him the unique nickname-a code phrase long familiar to aficionados of classic blues and R&B. And though we''re talking about historical realities from over half a century ago, Nelson today remains a crafty lyricist, a charismatic showman, and a vital force.
Sure, based on his impressive mid-twentieth century legacy alone, the gracefully aged Nelson might have merited the status of a legend.
-Roger Wood

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