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Chicago Rhythm & Blues Kings with Cash McCall & Gene Barge

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CHICAGO RHYTHM & BLUES KINGS WITH CASH MCCALL & GENE BARGE

You might have known the Chicago Rhythm & Blues Kings as the Mellow Fellows, the hard-punching R & B party band that first attained fame supporting vocalist Big Twist Nolan, who died in 1990. Their show features brawny horn charts, many written by saxophonist Gene Barge, punctuated by supple improvisations that range from growling brass imprecations through yakety-yak sax puckishness to melodic balladry. Vocalist Creighton Holley, who's been leading the aggregation for several months, is already proving himself a worthy successor to Big Twist (and to his best-known replacement, Martin Allbritton). But the real treat here, as the bill hints, should be Barge and McCall. The former is a veteran studio musician, producer, arranger, and songwriter who helped mold the modern Chicago R & B style during his tenure at Chess Records; he's also the "Daddy G" Gary "U.S." Bonds goads into a torrid sax solo on the raucous classic "Quarter to Three"--which was adapted from a Barge composition. Guitarist and vocalist Cash McCall is a less heralded Chicago veteran whose 1966 hit, "When You Wake Up," on the Thomas label, helped define the city's "soft soul" sound. McCall has worked mostly as a studio musician since then, but he remains a supple and expressive singer, as adept in straight-ahead blues as he is in deep, gritty soul. Saturday, 10 PM, Buddy Guy's Legends, 754 S. Wabash; 312-427-0333. The Chicago Rhythm & Blues Kings also play sans Barge and McCall Thursday, 9 PM, B.L.U.E.S., 2519 N. Halsted, 773-528-1012; and sans McCall next Friday and Saturday, May 23 and 24, 9 PM, Blue Chicago, 736 N. Clark, 312-642-6261. DAVID WHITEIS

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Uncredited photo of Chicago Rhythm & Blues Kings with Cash McCall & Gene Barge.

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