Pianist Lovie Lee is best known as Muddy Waters's last keyboard man, and that's probably unfortunate--his sparse, glissando-laden style, more evocative than propulsive and too often dependent on a predictable repertoire of trademark flourishes and patterns, didn't lend itself well to Waters's driving deep-blues impetus. On his own, though, Lee is a suprisingly versatile purveyor of myriad styles--stripped-down boogie-woogie, classic Chicago shuffles, even the odd New Orleans-tinged rumba novelty number. But it's his voice that stands out the most: a deep-chested roar remindful of the great Kansas City blues shouters (Big Joe Turner et al), it comes pouring out of his diminutive frame with a declamatory force. He adapts it easily to Chicago standards and other classics from the postwar blues era--Ray Sharpe's "Linda Lu" is a perennial Lee favorite--and despite the musical tension that sometimes arises between the forceful elegance of his singing and the technical limitations of his keyboard work, his shows are consistently among the most entertaining on the local circuit. He's also got a warm, avuncular stage presence that perfectly complements the slick professionalism of his vocal technique. Sunday, Rosa's, 3420 W. Armitage; 342-0452.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/James Fraher.