Musician - 3/94, p.92
"...listening to this album is like waking up with a hornet's nest in your head...an accurate depiction of Booker's virtuosity, a genius bordering on madness...."
Audio Magazine (7/94, p.77) - "...the aptly tittled SPIDERS should be on everyone's must buy list..."
Solo performer: James Booker (piano).
Recorded at the Maple Leaf Bar, New Orleans, Louisiana between 1977 & 1982. Includes liner notes by Earl King, Jeff Hannusch, Ricky Castrillo, Harry Connick Jr. and Thorny Penfield.
The late James Booker was a great, unsung American musical treasure. Like his New Orleans piano ancestors Jelly Roll Morton, Tuts Washington, and Professor Longhair, Booker was steeped in both classical and blues-based traditions, working primarily in ragtime and boogie-woogie styles with a bold, improvisatory spirit. His ability to switch between or fuse classical, blues, jazz, and gutbucket R&B never ceases to astonish.
Like its companion album RESURRECTION OF THE BAYOU MAHARAJAH, this outstanding set was recorded at New Orleans' historic Maple Leaf Bar in 1993; however, SPIDER is wholly instrumental. But Booker's keyboard mastery is more than enough to carry the album, whether on treatments of "Papa Was a Rascal," "Besame Mucho," or "Over the Rainbow." Rolling barrelhouse boogie is Booker's forte, yet the inventiveness of his left/right interaction, his florid embellishments, and his bluesy left hand rolls and bass lines transcend genre. While Booker strides on cuts such as "Gonzo's Blue Dream," he can turn around and perform classically influenced minuets, ballads of orchestral complexity, or a mixture of numerous styles, as on his self-penned tour de force "Piano Salad." This disc is a welcome addition to James Booker's recorded legacy.