Various Blues Routes

Opening with the a cappella work song “Rooster Call,” this evocative program documents the life-blood of the blues with recent concert performances from Wolf Trap. Ranging in scope from recollections of the slave era, by the Georgia Sea Island Singers in “Hambone, Where You Been,” to the urbane elegance of Sammy Price’s “Harlem Parlor Blues” and the vibrant call and response chants of the percussive White Cloud Hunters Mardi Gras Indians, this vivid anthology encompasses acoustic rural idioms, the electric sting of Chicago’s urban sound and the carnival zest of contemporary zydeco. Abner Jay’s “Bluetail Fly” is a close cousin to Caribbean calypso and his banjo provides a cool segue into the vintage New Orleans jazz sound of Don Vappie’s Creole Jazz Serenaders. While Kansas City swing is embodied by the vitality of Claude Williams’s violin, it’s great to hear Luther “Guitar Jr.” Johnson jam with veteran Pinetop Perkins as they reconfirm a thriving tradition that evolved into tributaries like R&B, rockabilly and rock’n’roll. Joe Louis Walker and the Boss Talkers take this project out in fine fashion with an apt salute to blues masters from Howlin’ Wolf to Lightnin’ Hopkins. Blues Routes is not only essential history, it is also excellent roots entertainment value for your dollar. (Smithsonian Folkways)