JJ 11/61: Muddy Waters – At Newport

Sixty years ago Sinclair Traill felt Waters was too sophisticated to be classed as folk, rather a sincere artist who would outlast transient novelty. First published in Jazz Journal November 1961

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I was present when this record was made and remember very clearly just how Muddy roused the audience that sunny afternoon from a depressed melancholy for what had happened the night before, into a state of happy exuberance. It was good work, for Muddy opened really cold, but it must be remembered that in addition to being a jumping blues vendor, Muddy is also a great trouper.

Opening with two medium-paced rockers, one can sense the programme gaining in momentum and intensity until the high spot comes with an infectious, long version of “Mojo” – a version which really had the cats prancing in the aisles. Much of the music, such as “Tiger In Your Tank” and the instrumental parts of other blues, are near rhythm ’n’ blues, but it doesn’t matter, it’s good jazz for all that.

Muddy is, I believe, a sincere artist, too sophisticated to be classed as ‘folk’, but a fine blues performer in any circumstances. The final track is by Otis Spann. A requiem for the then supposedly last Newport Festival, it is sung with deep sincerity over some fine blues piano.

Being present at the actual occasion may have coloured my appreciation of this record to some degree, but I am sure it will continue to give enjoyment long after much of today’s transient jazz talents have become forgotten.

Discography
I Got My Brand On You; I’m Your Koochie Man; Baby, Please Don’t Go; Soon Forgotten; Tiger In Your Tank (20 min) – I Feel So Good; Got My Mojo Working Parts 1 & 2; Goodbye Newport Blues (15 min)
Muddy Waters (vcl/g); James Cotton (har); Tat Harris (g); Andrew Stevenson (bs); Francis Clay (d); Otis Spann (p/vel). Newport 3/7/60.
(Pye Jazz NJL 34 12inLP 35s. 3d)