Monday, November 4, 2013

James Booker

I've been a huge fan of New Orleans pianist/singer James Booker since childhood. Booker, a perennially under-acclaimed honky-tonk genius, died in 1983 but his name still sparks gleams in the eyes of musicians and others in-the-know. James Booker is just The Guy. He's as good as it gets, and even those from that scene who've risen to fame and fortune (Dr. John, Harry Connick, etc) will freely admit it.

He's becoming a little less obscure thanks to the new film "Bayou Maharajah: The troubled genius of James Booker". I've heard it's un-frickin-believably terrific (musician friends tell me it's one of the greatest music films ever), but it's near the end of its festival circuit, and will likely never get a full release. I'll be sure and let you know when the DVD comes out.

I'd suggest you buy his CDs, buy the transcriptions of his miraculous piano work, and await the DVD. But don't take my word for it. Check this out, if you can even stand hearing music so honest, funky, gorgeous, and brilliant:


conqueroo said...

Also, the 30+ year old album 'Classified' was released last month as 'Classified: Remixed & Expanded' by Rounder Records.

James Leff said...

Nice! Thanks!

fbj said...


I know this is an old post, but thought it the best place to post this -- an interview with Lily Keber, the filmmaker who made "Bayou Maharaja". Lots of good BTS stuff here:


Jim Leff said...


fbj said...

Thank you -- I have you to thank for turning me on to James Booker.

I have the Montreaux recordings from 1979, and "True" absolutely stops me in my tracks every time. It's everything the man could do and could be, all pulled together for a few glorious minutes.

The great thing about being a perfectionist is, once in a while, a few times if you are lucky or just stubborn, you can create something truly perfect. Did Booker feel that way? I think for those moments, that night, he did.

it's worth a lot.


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