It isn’t every day that we celebrate a 50 year-long career, especially when you are only 55! Born and raised in a musical family, Lucky Peterson, was a child prodigy of the blues. “My dad fed me the blues before I could walk. I played organ before I knew how to speak.” Lucky grew up in the atmosphere of a blues club, the Governor’s Inn, run by his father, James. Along the way, this native of Buffalo, New York crossed paths with many giants including Jimmy Reed, Muddy Waters, Buddy Guy, Willie Dixon, Junior Wells, Bobby Blue Bland, and Little Milton. He began discovering the world scene as soon as he was old enough to travel, gaining recognition and starting a robust discography along the way. This year we celebrate his 50-year career with his latest album, “50 - Just Warming Up!” (2019 / Jazz Village / PIAS). Lucky—who learned to play keyboards with Jimmy Smith and took up guitar by listening to the three Kings (B.B., Albert, and Freddie)—says “this universal thing has not yet had its final word.”
The album “50 - Just Warming Up!” begins with a pumped up electric blues to suit every desire. It features guitars on fire and organs on speed, and helps us ring in his 50 year career. “Look at me!” he says, demonstrating his vitality, still quite intact. And that’s just the beginning. The album continues with “Pack It Up,” an awesome track made famous by Freddie King containing high-energy rhythm with a streaked guitar and a gusty brass section. Lucky’s re-make is top notch and, the tension meter is strong. The organ on “Dreaming About You” invokes powerful gospel and guitar virtuoso Shawn Kellerman masterfully uses the wah-wah pedal in his playing. While on “Don’t Want Nobody But You,” singer Tamara Trammel who regularly accompanies Lucky on tour along with his faithful group the Organization, brings in a Texas flare and passionate vocals. Her velvety voice in this love song contrasts perfectly with his hoarse timbre. Love is also in question in an upbeat song entitled “Repossess Your Love”. The subject of love continues in “I Will Die 4 U,” this time sung in a romantic style with percussive caresses and sifting violins perfectly blended—a sheer thrill.
Lucky, with his distinct style also takes the helm to honor his mentors including B.B. King doing “Never Make Your Move Too Soon”. A life-long disciple of Jimmy Smith, “Clickety Click” with its jazz funk tempo and keyboards is a tribute to this legendary Hammond B-3 player. Lucky is adept in conjugating the blues that has rocked him from childhood in a multitude of ways, and which makes his sense of the blues so invigorating. In “The Blues is Driving Me”, he employs a tempo that flirts with the swaying syncopations of reggae. The lyrics speak of his intimate relationship with the music that chose him “more than I chose it.” Yet this does not prevent him from playing the blues straight such as in “Angel of Mercy” and “Going Where My Roots Come From,” a tune pierced with powerful guitar solos. Similarly, in “Let the Good Time Party Begin,” the composition is steeped in traditional blues and accented with the harmonica of Sugar Blue. The song is purely a good time, to paraphrase the title. He weaves these songs together with “Taking Care of Mine,” in which the French rapper Aelpéacha joins him, and with “Kissin’ on my Lips” with Jakk Jo. The latter is a refined orchestration, reduced to the bone with a beat that pulses with no effort and a guitar that adds its touch with single notes, all the while enhancing the two voices from America that contrast one another. The song is sure to be a hit! And last but not least, we end where it all began, in church, the cradle of African-American music, with two gospel classics, “Amazing Grace,” and “Precious Lord,” in which Lucky, the amazing child of the blues, communes with Sharon Riley. Their heavenly voices rise to address the All-Mighty. And Good God, does it groove!