James Booker was a New Orleans piano prodigy who fused classical, jazz, blues, r&b, gospel, and funk into an almost percussive way of playing the instrument. New Orleans is known for musicians who either by being born or living there combine different musical influences into a form that defies categorization but much like Professor Longhair, Booker was pretty well known in New Orleans but not so much in other parts of the U.S.
Booker mostly played solo piano but on occasion performed with other musicians and was described by Dr. John as "the best black, gay, one-eyed junkie piano genius New Orleans has ever produced." Because of his addictions and psychological challenges, he was unreliable about showing up to gigs but would still get bookings due to his sheer talent and improvisational abilities with tunes. This album is a good introduction to some of Booker's inventive music. It's also worth getting the streaming movie "Bayou Maharaja" (available on Hoopla through SMPL) for more on Booker.
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