Pianist Jimmy Walker tends to get overlooked in his hometown, probably because of his low-key musical and personal style. But the 87-year-old is Chicago's oldest active bluesman, a dexterous musican with roots in the earliest days of Chicago blues. Born in Memphis in 1905, Walker arrived here three years later; by the time he was 20, he'd broken ito the city's burgeoning black popular music scene. His style evokes those early days: he's proficient in the pumping boogie-woogie that became popular during the 20s and 30s, but he also specializes in the more introspective, melodious styles that characterozed popular jazz and blues piano in those years. His sparse, easygoing technique stands in gentle contrast to the intensity of such later greats as Little Brother Montgomery, Memphis Slim, and Sunnyland Slim. The blues of Jimmy Walker are among the happiest sounds in all of Chicago: his avuncularity is as captivating as his music, and he shows every sign of continuing on in his inimitable fashion for many more years. Sunday, B.L.U.E.S., 2519 N. Halsted, 528-1012.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Brad Miller.