Saturday, March 24, 2012
Pete's Pantheon: Professor Longhair, Polyrhythmically Perverse
'Fess, in fact, seems to have had two brains. One for his left hand to boogie and chug with, and the other for his right hand to spin glorious arabesques of melody that loop and skitter, contrasting and converging with the bass lines with a dexterity and invention that satisfies and delights. His buoyant Rhumba/Jazz/Blues music combines logic and surprise in a way that reminds more than one listener of Bach.
The wildness in his music, accentuated by the weird yelps and yodels of his singing style, seems to have limited his appeal outside of New Orleans. But he is the hometown hero that players like Dr. John and Allen Toussaint look up to. A long way up.