Waggy Murphy’s Records is a Japanese record label based in Chigasaki-city. We founded WMR in 2014 with the release of the Lee Kanehira’s 1st album “THE UNION MEETIN'”. WMR specializes in Chicago blues piano style tradition.
– CD info –
Lee Kanehira / LEE’S BOOGIE (2017: WMCD102)
“Lee’s Boogie” A Note from the artist
My second album “Lee’s Boogie” is finally complete! My first album in 2014 “THE UNION MEETIN’” was the colorful session with Chicago’s finest musicians, in the varied forms of the band, trio and duo. On the contrary, I recorded my second album basically alone, accompanying myself on piano. I’d like to tell you a little how it came about.
It’s been around 4 years since I started my monthly solo live at Bright Brown, Nakano, Tokyo. I gradually got used to performing on my own, came to feel the unique appeal of the solo piano, and got lost deeply into the world of Piano Blues. During that time, I started to feel it would be nice to challenge myself to record alone someday.
In December 2016, we lost the pianist I loved and respected, Barrelhouse Chuck to a disease. He was one of the few pianists who kept the old school tradition in Chicago Blues today. As most of the Blues Piano masters are gone, he was the one that greatly influenced me in the Chicago Blues Piano tradition.
Grief-stricken, I found out that Chuck’s tribute concert was going to be held with his musician friends, so I flew to Chicago and had the luck to take part in the show. It was followed by the recording of the album “Royal Mint” with The Cash Box Kings, where I had an honor of playing in his place. I realized Chuck’s music and life is ever shining in the history of blues that has been passed down from the old days to present, and to the future. From that experience I realized the importance of recording my current music.
In June 2017, I flew back to Chicago and went to the same studio where I made my 1st album, and recorded my solo album. For this occasion, I penned my first original tune “Pumpkin’s Boogie” (10). It’s about the very cute and friendly cat in the apartment where I always stay in Chicago. This is my favorite, the fun Boogie Woogie that makes everybody happy. (4) is the walking blues about Murphy, my dog in Japan and the CEO of my record label. You can see them both in the artwork.
The cover songs are of Tampa Red (2)(5), Irving Berlin’s lament a la Leroy Carr(6), Lee Green(9), Jimmy Reed arranged in piano blues (7).
On (8) and (11), I played four-hands on a piano with the legendary Erwin Helfer, who was Chuck’s hero and friend since he was in his teens.
I had the courage to ask Erwin to record (11) together, particularly for Chuck.
Erwin and Chuck are my biggest contemporary influences.
(12) is another tribute to Chuck, his original with which I usually close my gigs. Mr. Shoji Naito, the co-producer of my fist album “THE UNION MEETIN”, joined me on harp and ukulele.
Being the solo recording from an intimate background as such, the album turned out to be a reflection of my present self in living color. The songs convey the dynamism of Blues Piano, its pleasant tones, lush melodies and above all the joy of playing. Wherever you can relax, in front of the speakers, with your favorite drink or two, I hope you take your time and enjoy the cream of the crop of the Blues Piano.
AN INTIMATE PIANO BLUES—DEEP & WARM
Internationally acclaimed blues pianist/singer Miss Lee returns with her second album, where you can indulge in the lush world of prewar piano blues.
Produced by Rie Kanehira
Recorded And Mixed by Brian Leach
Mastered by Blaise Barton at Joyride Studio in Chicago IL in June 2017
Lee Kanehira: Piano & Vocals
Special Guests: Erwin Helfer: Piano (8,11) Shoji Naito: Harmonica and Ukulele (12) Pumpkin: Meow (10)
1. Lee’s Boogie
2. Let’s Try It Again
3. Longing For My Sugar
4. Walkin’ With Murphy
5. Keep Jumping
6. How About Me
7. I Wanna Be Loved
9. The Way I Feel
10. Pumpkin’s Boogie
11. 4 O’Clock Blues
12. Iza Mae
Lee Kanehira / THE UNION MEETIN’ (2014: WMCD101)
Original liner notes & introduction of the musicians by Shoji Naito
“It’s not too much to say that the musicians Miss Lee chose for this recording are THE BEST lineup in Chicago who can play the old school Chicago Blues.
To be honest, I was not sure if we could have all these great musicians, but there was no problem. If it was for Miss Lee, everybody was more than ready.
Allow me to introduce the member of Miss Lee’s dream session.
Kenny “Beedy-Eyes” Smith
Kenny is a highly acclaimed drummer who’s won a string of prizes including Grammy. Listen to his blues swing on “Rockin’ the House.” This is the very first take of the recording and Kenny kicked off and set the wonderful groove for the whole session. He is the busiest drummer in Chicago and is playing every night around the town, unless on the road. Kenny’s father is the Chicago blues legend Willie “Big Eyes” Smith. But he has established a great career in his own right.
Chicago’s long time favorite guitarist, Billy’s career spans more than 30 years. He played with the former members of Muddy Waters Band in The Legendary Blues Band in 1980’s. He is also on the Grammy-winning soundtrack of the film “CADILLAC RECORDS”. Nobody can touch him when he plays old school Chicago blues. You can hear his excellent guitar on “I’m So Worried”. He visited Japan for the first time in 2013 for Japan Blues Festival in Aomori and fascinated many Japanese blues fans.
Joel is one of the most gifted guitar virtuosos in the world. He is active in the Chicago music scene for more than 20 years with an avid following that shows up on every gig. His leader band, the Modern Sounds that plays Jazz and Blues of 1940’s or older, is popular throughout America and Europe. His improvisation on “Messin’ Around” is nothing but a work of art.
A versatile Chicago Blues master, Gerry is professional on guitar, bass, harmonica, mandolin and even drums. He toured USA with Nick Moss in early 2000s, before starting the solo career. He won Blues Music Award in 2008 with his album “Since Way Back” which includes “UNION MEETING”, the title track of this CD. Gerry happily accepted Miss Lee’s offer to cover the song together.
Joe Nosek & Oscar Wilson
Joe is the leader of The Cash Box Kings, the main attraction on Chicago’s veteran Blues label Blind Pig Records. Oscar is the lead vocalist of the band. It is a miracle that they could appear on this recording. As Joe respects Miss Lee as a musician, he convinced the Blind Pig Records for the approval. Joe and Oscar’s perfect match on “I’m in Love, Standing Around Crying” is the highlight on this CD.
Oscar sings nice and deep with his natural voice, a kind of a blues singer hard to find these days. Their latest album was nominated for the Grammy’s Best Traditional Blues Album in 2013.
Most of upright bass players are jazzmen and play blues occasionally for money. However, Brad Ber is the blues bass player. And there is no bass player like him. Please check out his amazing playing on “Rockin’ the House” and “I’m in Love”.
He plays with traditional Chicago blues bands such as The Cash Box Kings and the Special 20’s. He played bass on the famous Broadway Musical “Million Dollar Quartet” as well. As you can see, he is a busy musician in Chicago.
Seiji “WABI” Yuguchi
A seasoned blues singer and harmonica player, WABI has been playing in Chicago since 1990’s. He toured around the world with the Louisiana Bluesman Larry Garner. Then he made his solo album in 2000. Those of you in Japan may know WABI because he comes home every year for tour. Even in the U.S, where there are so many unique musicians, he is standing out as one and only. You can hear it on “I’m Not the Only One”.
I had the pleasure of producing this album and played guitar on some tracks. After moving to Chicago in 1996, I’ve been playing with great musicians including those on this recording. I am also playing guitar and harmonica in Eddie “Big Chief” Clearwater’s band for 10 years.
Rie “Lee” Kanehira
I can’t believe she made this great album as the leader, amongst the greatest Chicago blues professionals. It’s amazing! I think I saw her tears the moment she finished recording “Dedicated to Blues Giants” on the last day. I know how special it was for her to play the Steinway piano that Pinetop Perkins once played, and to record in Chicago where many Blues legends lived, with her Chicago buddies that she shares the Blues spirit with. It must have been emotional. From the first note to the last, the song tells you she is in love with the Chicago Blues head over heals.
Finally, a note on the bonus track “3.11(Sunshine on My Knee).”
At first, we were going to record just 12 songs. The last day of the session fell on 3.11, the 3rd anniversary of the Tohoku Earthquake. And the recording member happened to be the Japanese trio (Wabi, Lee and me.) It was a sheer coincidence. So we decided to play some blues for Tohoku. We recorded WABI’s original song which he wrote shortly after the disaster. We didn’t need no rehearsal since we all had the same picture, what we saw on TV 3 years ago. “Sunshine on My Knee” depicts the disaster Tsunami that struck on an ironically beautiful day. We heard it over many times as we mixed it down, wondering if we should include this overly emotional song. Eventually we made it a bonus track.
This album became a great stuff that one can listen to over and over. I hope you enjoy the genuine Chicago blues.”
THE REAL DEAL
Lady Blues Piano, Miss Lee has been enchanting the blues fan in her native Japan and the U.S. for 10 years. She visits Chicago every year for the blues fest, where she met the Grammy-winning drummer Kenny “Beedy Eye” Smith, who invited her on the sight to play with his band Cash Box Kings. The encounter lead to another and after a while, she found herself in the rich circle of gifted musicians who carries on the true spirit of the Chicago blues. In March 2014, Miss Lee recorded her first leader album in Chicago to showcase her friends’ great talent, along with her own.
“I wanted everybody to know that there is a living tradition of old-school Chicago blues, vibrant and on-going, carried on by amazing musicians” —- Miss Lee
This album not only uncovers Miss Lee, the rising star of the blues piano, but also the new era of the Chicago blues: timeless, universal and profoundly respected by music fans of all generations and ethnic backgrounds.
Miss Lee happily calls herself “a blues purist” and often quotes one of her idols Otis Spann’s saying: “Blues Never Die.”
Her music is enough to prove it true.
1. Rockin’ the House
2. Black Rat Swing
3. Messin’ Around
4. Humboldt Stomp
5. I’m in Love
6. How Much More
7. I’m Not the Only One
8. The Union Meetin’
9. Standing Around Crying
10. I’m so Worried
11. I Got a Feeling
12. Dedicated to Blues Giants
+1 bonus track “3.11(Sunshine on My Knee).”