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Release Info: Michael Coleman and The Delmark All Stars - Blues Brunch At The Mart
More than 50-years-old and still going strong, Delmark records is Chicago's oldest jazz and blues label and arguably the most important one still operating. They've released stone-cold classics in both genres over the years and currently maintain one of the best rosters of Chicago talent in the field. You can thank Bob Koester for that; a nominee for "Patron Saint of Chicago Jazz and Blues" if ever there was one. He also heads up the world's largest blues and jazz retail store: Chicago's Jazz Record Mart. Every year during the Chicago Blues Festival, Jazz Record Mart hosts the blues brunch, where members of the Delmark blues family put on a free show (and brunch!) inside the store. In 2005, Michael Coleman & the Backbreakers acted as house band, backing a variety of other Delmark artists in a great informal setting, and Blues Brunch at the Mart was recorded for posterity. Aside from the two solo piano numbers (Steve Behr and Aaron Moore), the Backbreakers back all performers giving the album a unified sound, even as the lead performers come and go. But don't think this all sounds the same. You go from an updated version of "The Sky Is Crying" by Michael Coleman to the gritty blues of Lurrie Bell to the gospel-informed sounds of Shirley Johnson to the growling, extroverted Tail Dragger. The late, great Willie Kent takes a final bow as well. From the between-song patter, one gets the sense that this isn't just a group of musicians united by their label; this is the Delmark blues family, and the patriarch is Bob Koester (who turns in a couple of priceless introductions). Part label roster sampler and part historical souvenir, Blues Brunch at the Mart is a fine snapshot of Delmark blues circa 2005.
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