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Corey Harris

Henry Butler

Vu-du Menz samples

Corey Harris and Henry Butler
Vu-du Menz
2000, Alligator

First rank blues, in the gut, street wise and straight through. Henry Butler and Corey Harris, two of Louisiana's best have no problem making sweet music together and, if your feet don't move and your mouth don't break out into a smile, bud, you dead and nobody's done gone and tol' ya! Butler's sweet ragtime keys, Harris' fine picking and each gentleman's unique vocal style create worlds of blues from field hollers to the kind of frolicking that you probably could have found in a Storyville pleasure palace.

Each man has his own approach. Harris is firmly in the camp of neotraditionalist and his deep baritone captures the nuance of Delta and Piedmont forms, as if he lived along some railroad siding deep in the heart of King Cotton. His guitar picking on six and sliding are fresh and powerful, yet traditional. Henry grew up steeped in the rich piano tradition of his birth city, New Orleans. His fluency is informed by all the great ivory artists from the Crescent City. Longhair, Booker, Huey "Piano" Smith and Tuts are mixed into his palette which ranges from ragtime to boogie, gospel, R&B, contempojazz and the latest funk.

When Henry and Corey met, there was a kinship and solidarity of purpose that made "Vu-du Menz" almost a natural. Consisting of acoustic duets, the individual and the group both serve up a brew of swirling, shifting leads, accompaniments and harmonies and, boy, does it sound sweet. Four days in the studio and voila! A masterwork of stylistically reverential, up to date lyrically and funkarhythmical blues joie de vivre. Thirteen originals and two covers range from rollicking rag to serious Delta and cover love to sociopolitics. Your ears are filled with blues, rag, gospel, New Orleans funk and jazz as Henry and Corey blend and meld their souls, voices and instruments into a seamless joyful whole.—Mark Gresser

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