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Pinetop Perkins, Heritage of the Blues: The Complete High Tone Sessions (HighTone)
Pinetop Perkins turned 90 the same month this release hit the stands. He's been playing blues piano longer than most people reading this have been alive. Though most well known as Muddy Waters's piano player, Perkins also graced bands led by Robert Nighthawk, Little Milton, and Earl Hooker. On this disc, it's just Perkins and 88 of his closest friends having a long conversation with each other. Perkins punches out 15 tunes that seem to hearken back to times long, long ago. Paying musical tribute to another great bluesman with his "Song for Sunnyland" (that's Sunnyland Slim), Perkins soon takes off into eccentric and completely wild runs around the keys. Known for rugged thumping barrelhouse, Perkins also has a delicate touch when needed. He can keep a light foot on the pedals that make any piano sound like a tack piano, and he trips through the old blues standard "How Long" as gracefully as can be. Mostly, Perkins really pounds them out in his own highly individualistic style. While you can imagine him developing his craft in noisy gin mills, you soon realize that nobody but nobody plays like him.