Jimmy Rogers | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Jimmy Rogers


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When people discuss the glory days of postwar blues, names like Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, and Elmore James come up more often than names like Jimmy Rogers. But Rogers was here when Muddy was still in Mississippi contemplating his big move north; when Muddy got here Rogers introduced him around town and helped him forge his soon-to-be-revolutionary style. Rogers is no less visionary now than he was then, although he still expresses his vision in traditional terms: his gently picked accompaniments and descending bass lines hark directly back to his Delta roots, and his voice--plaintive yet full, laced with equal amounts of sadness and wit--remains a clear, deeply expressive blues instrument. What sets Rogers apart from many of his contemporaries, however, is his musical sophistication: he's always had an ear for complex chord changes (his cover of Robert Lockwood's "That's All Right" is considered the definitive version) and jaunty pop-blues ("Walking by Myself"), and he melds those ideas to the solid Chicago shuffle of his rhythm section. Rogers's blend of tradition and urbanity is as musically relevant and emotionally satisfying as it was in the 1950s. Saturday, Buddy Guy's Legends, 754 S. Wabash; 427-0333 or 427-1190.

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