Blues ‘n’ Tonks from the Pierces (February 3rd, 2018, Columbia, Missouri)

Traditional New Orleans jazz (not otherwise known as Dixieland or ragtime) experienced a major if short-lived comeback, with local legends who’d been playing around town on a regular basis for years suddenly finding themselves recording for Atlantic. These records are hard to find these days, but they are warm and very wonderful. My favorite series is Riverside’s Living Legends of New Orleans Jazz, which featured trombonist Jim Robinson, legendary pianist Earl Hines (a Pennsylvania ringer), clarinetist and saxophonist Louis Cottrell, multi-instrumentalist Peter Bocage, and (my favorites, and also recorded by Atlantic) the husband-wife cornet-piano/vocal team of De De and Billie Pierce. The couple, who passed away in New Orleans within a year of each other in 1973 and 1974, are underrated in the general annals of American music and aren’t exactly the first names the gen-pop think of when New Orleans comes to mind. However, they made much dynamite, intimately raucous music together, with Billie’s lusty blues vocals and saloon-tinted tonk piano the spark riding down the fuse. Sometimes I think she’s major.

Try the full album (above) and, since it’s Carnival Time, seek out Les Blank’s Always for Pleasure, where you can glimpse the pair at work, though not in this clip.

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