The Sirens Records

SR5006: St. James Infirmary   -- Skinny Williams and Erwin Helfer

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“Williams gets a gorgeous tone, and his superb control lends tremendous expressiveness to his lines. Helfer never comps the same way twice; his rhythmic daring alone is worth the price of admission, as are his melodic and harmonic ideas. … Obviously a set of duets like this has an after-hours feel. … St. James Infirmary will find a welcome place in the hearts of grown-up jazz and blues lovers”

Tom Hyslop, Blues Revue, November 2003

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“This is a warm and richly blues-based record by a couple of Chicago stalwarts. … This record could have been made 50 years ago, but I don't say that to criticize: everything about it suggests a self-conscious effort to reach back before bop: to recover something of a time when the blues and jazz were still very much the same music. In that way, even non-blues tracks like Ain't Misbehavin' or These Foolish Things feel bluesy … This record doesn't merely pay homage to tradition; it's in the tradition, effortlessly and honestly, not a history or method book in sight but swinging with lots of foot-tapping soul. More importantly, perhaps, it's great fun from beginning to end.”

Michael Coyle, Cadence October 2003
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“… A highly literate and skilled stylist, Helfer also tackles standard pop material with equal success. The Skinny Williams CD features both players prominently in music that recalls the old days of rhythm and blues when such a duo might be found in taverns and roadhouses up and down the Midwest, the places where stars like Earl Bostic or Illinois Jacquet built up their chops. Williams has a rich, fat tone and a straightforward way with a strong melody, apparent in blues like Trouble in Mind and ballads like These Foolish Things or When You Wish Upon a Star. The music is romantic but danceable, and Helfer and Williams mesh effortlessly. … Helfer has a strong drive, a fine ear and the sensibility of a blues singer. Williams is equally lyrical and commanding. The two CDs [I'm Not Hungry But I Like To Eat – Blues! and St. James Infirmary] are excellent introductions to Helfer's long and impressive career. The Sirens, devoted to blues piano, is to be commended for promoting this music.”

William J. Schaefer, the Mississippi Rag December 2003
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