The Sirens Records

SR5001: I'm Not Hungry But I Like to Eat - Blues! - Erwin Helfer

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"The esteemed boogie woogie and blues veteran, who hasn't been captured on record nearly enough, delivers a glowing collection of solo performances and duets with saxophonist John Brumbach. Ranging far and wide - the classics include Percy Mayfield's 'Please Send Me Someone To Love' and Duke Ellington's 'In A Sentimental Mood', the Helfer originals 'Homage to Pete Johnson' and the memorably titled 'Pooch Piddle' the album luxuriates in tradition without giving an inch to it."  More Music CD Reviews»

Lloyd Sachs, Entertainment Critic, Chicago Sun-Times
January 6, 2002

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Music CD Reviews

“… Helfer adds new lyrical dimension to Duke Ellington’s “In a Sentimental Mood,” while his “Swanee River Boogie” made me feel I was having my own rent party. … Helfer, already much appreciated in Chicago, should gain a wider and lasting audience. (He did play the Berlin Jazz Festival this year.)”

Nat Hentoff, The Wall Street Journal, January 8, 2003
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“… what a stunning collection it is. Right from the opening of “Swanee River Boogie” the piano playing comes out and grabs you by the lapels, or perhaps I should say it immediately catches your ear. This man is just a great performer and the music is mind-blowing; whether he is playing old favorites like the traditional blues pieces, ‘Nobody Knows You’ and ‘See See Rider’ or his own compositions, ‘Homage to Pete Johnson’ or ‘Pooch Piddle’, to name but two of the five self-composed numbers included in this set. …”

Pat Harrison, Blues and Rhythm September 2002
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“Helfer is a versatile pianist who is able to adapt to Gospel, New Orleans, and other outgrowths of the music. He is most at home, however, running the keys in Boogie-woogie fashion with a lively beat and a solid improvisational hand. He gets into the groove with authoritative statements that make the decades old genre come alive. … Together, they form a team that conjures up images of 1920s barrooms and five-cent beers. … The tunes are all memorable gems from the past, but they come alive through the emphatic approach of Helfer.”

Frank Rubolino, Cadence March 2003
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“Why this 65-year-old Chicagoan gets passed over for wide acclaim while far less gifted blues and boogie woogie pianists bask in the spotlight is a mystery. Tenor saxophonist John Brumbach, another undervalued musician, joins the piano expert on four of 15 tracks, including the Mama Yancey salute ‘Stella.’”

Frank-John Hadley, DownBeat April 2003
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“Chicago’s Erwin Helfer demonstrates so much variety on his ‘I’m Not Hungry But I Like To Eat – Blues! that one might be forgiven for wondering if several players weren’t involved. Improbably high levels of proficiency and innovation are revealed as Helfer deconstructs ‘Please Send Me Someone To Love,’ barrelhouses through ‘The Sheik of Araby,’ caresses ‘Do You Know What It Means To Miss New Orleans,’ and boogies ‘Swanee River’ to death. Along the way he breathes new life into ‘After Hours’ and plays a stunning ‘Homage to Pete Johnson.’ ”

Tom Hyslop, Blues Revue June 2002
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“… Helfer imprints each track with his warm personality and thoughtful approach to the music. … This is a lovingly and intelligently produced recording the likes of which are rarely seen anymore and a potential back-door contender for some well deserved awards this year.”

Justin O’Brien, Living Blues March 2002
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“This CD is a testimonial to a distinctive, one of a kind of piano adeptness and to one of the remaining masters of the genre. Highly recommended.”

David Nathan,
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“I would highly recommend this CD to anyone who enjoys blues and/or traditional jazz piano, or anyone who doesn’t know they do.”

Ann Rabson, blues pianist and recording artist
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