Audio Mixer: Blaise Barton.
Liner Note Author: Justin O'Brien.
Recording information: Blind Pig, Ann Arbor, MI (04/19/1977/04/20/1977); The Blind Pig Caf‚, Ann Arbor, MI (04/19/1977/04/20/1977).
Photographer: Peter Yates .
This label can really be counted on to do a fine job on documenting an artist. For a recording of this artist in his later years, one can't really do better than this set, which captures Sykes live on stage in a club, alone at the piano, as he usually was during this stage of his career. By then he was way beyond worrying about dancers like in the old days and was becoming more and more expansive on the keyboard, certainly bringing to mind Fats Waller and Art Tatum. And beyond that, listeners at that time who had heard even more modern pianists were convinced that Sykes was getting into their territory, too. Which he probably was, especially when the entry way was a number such as "Honeysuckle Rose" or "Please Don't Talk About Me," a regular set-ender and forum for some of his wildest playing. The tradeoff in a live set such as this, as opposed to Sykes in a studio, was that for an audience; he always trotted out a certain set of hardy favorites, and they are here, but he always reinvented them with the artistry of his piano playing. In the studio he would try to devise some catchy new numbers, and perhaps take one of the old favorites, change it slightly and then rename it. There is a touch of the latter skullduggery here. The solo version of "I'm a Nut," which had served so well as a band vehicle, is very nice to hear, and the Ray Charles cover is also perfect. ~ Eugene Chadbourne