Although Orrin Keepnews' Riverside Records was primarily a jazz label, the company dabbled in blues in the 1960s – and one of the bluesmen who recorded for Riverside was John Lee Hooker. Recorded in 1960, this Keepnews-produced session came at a time when Hooker was signed to Vee-Jay. The last thing Keepnews wanted to do was emulate Hooker's electric-oriented, very amplified Vee-Jay output, which fared well among rock and R&B audiences. Keepnews had an acoustic country blues vision for the bluesman, and That's My Story favors a raw, stripped-down, bare-bones approach – no electric guitar, no distortion, no singles aimed at rock & rollers.
Guitarist Gabor Szabo's debut as a leader (after an important stint with the Chico Hamilton Quintet) is surprisingly successful. The reason this LP is a bit of a surprise is that the repertoire (in addition to two originals apiece by the leader and Gary McFarland) has a few unlikely songs by the Beatles ("Yesterday" and "If I Fell") and Burt Bacharach (including "Walk On By"). Usually jazz adaptations of rock songs in the 1960s are lightweight, but Szabo's original sound, the unusual instrumentation (two or three guitars, Sadao Watanabe on flute, Gary McFarland on marimba, bass, drums and percussion) and McFarland's clever arrangements uplift the music. The playing time at 35 minutes is a bit brief, but the performances are better than expected.
Two classic Vee-Jay albums from blues master John Lee Hooker! One of the great blues collections of the post-World War II era. John Lee Hooker developed a “talking blues” style that became his trademark. Though similar to the early Delta tradition, his metrically free approach and unique sound would make him a staple of the Detroit blues tradition. Often called the “King of the Boogie”, Hooker’s driving, rhythmic approach to guitar playing has become an integral part of the blues.
Geno Washington & the Ram Jam Band were an English-based soul band, active from 1965 to 1968. The Ram Jam Band were formed around 1964 by Pete Gage and Geoff Pullum. Before taking on Geno Washington, whom Pete knew from performing the Bentwaters USAF Base, they had Jamaican Blue Beat singer by the name of Errol Dixon front the band as they embarked on the London club circuit. Pete approached Geno to finance his demobbing to the States and to return to front the band as it seemed essential to have an American to perform US soul rather than the West Indian alternatives in London at that time…