Jimmy Burns – The Chicago Sessions
CD: 10 Songs, 34 Minutes
Styles: Classic Chicago Blues, Blues Covers, Blues Icons
One of the best things about blues icons such as Chicago’s Jimmy Burns is the impact they have on other musicians. They shine like the sun, illuminating the entire sky instead of just their own immediate space of the heavens. One of the artists blessed by Burns’ light in the not-so-new millennium is Danish bass player Laust “Krudtmejer” Nielsen, whom he met in 2013. Together with singer/guitarist Morten Lading Lunn, Burns and Nielsen performed several concerts in Scandinavia: Oslo and Lillestrom in Norway and Copenhagen, Denmark.
At the time, Nielsen worked mainly as a sideman, but in 2016 he took up production, releasing an album with his own duo project Trainman Blues, featuring the Irish blues artist Richard Farrell. Remembering the amazing voice of Jimmy Burns, “Krudtmejer” got the idea of making an album collaboration despite the long distance. This true blues legend was happy to take the chance. The Chicago Sessions came together in Denmark except for Jimmy’s vocals and guitars, which Laust went to Chicago to record in the JoyRide Studio with Blaise Barton. It was meant to be the forerunner for a long tour in Scandinavia in 2020, which then got derailed by COVID. Nevertheless, this commendable effort is now available on CD and streaming.
Alongside Burns (all vocals and guitar) are Laust “Krudtmejer” Nielsen on bass, guitar and beats; Morten Lunn on guitar and slide guitar for all tracks; Ronni Boysen on guitar; Kristian Siquiera and Thomas Crawfurd on drums; Nichlas Kure on guitar, and Thomas Melau on harp.
It features ten tracks, several of which are covers (“Killing Floor,” “Every Day I Have the Blues,” “Mean Old Frisco” and “I’m Ready” among them). The best of these is an earworm blues version of Foreigner’s “Cold As Ice,” featuring Morten Lunn’s guitar in place of the trademark piano and hand claps instead of the drum rimshots. It almost surpasses the original. As for the fresh compositions, the freshest are “I Know You’re Gone” by Morten Lunn and the standout “Stranded in Clarksdale,” lyrics and music by Jimmy Burns. I marveled at how it was a new song instead of one from his lauded previous releases. It’s that good. In fact, it’s great.
The hallmark feature of this album, however, is three installments of “Jimmy’s Story,” entitled “Back in the Day,” “Waiting for the Bus,” and “Chicago Avenue.” Full disclosure: A lyrics booklet would have helped me understand Burns’ autobiographical details far better than I did.
Overall, this release proves Burns’ extraordinary talent and influence radiate outward, inspiring those who perform with him as well as those who hear him. It doesn’t break a lot of new ground in the blues, but it shines because of the groundbreaker!