WoW #15: The Walter Davis Project

The Walter Davis Project

A few days ago I was preparing  to interview Christian Rannenberg, one of the world’s finest blues piano players, for the Talkin’ Blues show in Cologne. Chris lives in Berlin and I hadn’t seen him for a number of years. So I did some digging to find out what he’d been up to. My most pleasant discovery was The Walter Davis Project.

Chris had told me about his intention to do a Walter Davis tribute album as far back as 2006. He’s been an admirer of Davis – the Mississippi-born pianist who recorded roughly 150 sides for the Victor and Bluebird labels in the 30s, 40s and 50s – ever since first sitting down to play the blues on a piano keyboard. As the initiator and driving force behind the project, he wound up investing a good deal of his own money on sessions with Billy Boy Arnold, Charlie Musselwhite and several others. But the recordings lay around gathering dust until Rannenberg and harmonica player Bob Corritore crossed paths at a memorial celebration for mutual friend Louisiana Red in 2012.

Bob Corritore tells the story here…

The Walter Davis Project, which finally surfaced on Electro-Fi Records in 2013, was worth the wait. It features the talents of Rannenberg, Arnold, Musselwhite, Corritore, Jimmy McCracklin and even Henry “Mule” Townsend, the guitarist who recorded prolifically with Davis during the 1930s and 40s. It encompasses 17 musical tracks as well as Rannenberg’s recorded interview with the late Jimmy McCracklin.

The performances are as pure, unfiltered, touching and old school-bluesy as it gets.

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