Legendary sessionman and producer AL KOOPER talks to Hugh Fielder
Don’t write that word in a review,” warns Al Kooper, chuckling. I’ve just described his new solo album, Black Coffee, as “Steely Dan with a dose of laxative”. The Steely Dan comparison doesn’t bother him, obviously, but like many Americans, he seems to have a phobia about bodily functions.
Black Coffee is Kooper’s first “proper” solo album in 30 years. He started playing with The Royal Teens in 1958 and has recorded with Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, The Who and three Beatles. He also founded Blood Sweat & Tears and discovered Lynyrd Skynyrd. Those are just the headlines. Even his autobiography, Backstage Passes And Backstabbing Bastards (currently out of print) and his equally entertaining website www.alkooper.com struggle to cover his extraordinary CV.
He quit the music business at the end of the 80s but he didn’t quit music. He moved to Boston and taught at Berklee College Of Music until his sight deteriorated, but he still plays gigs, either solo or with Funky Faculty, a horn section that he formed at the college.
The songs on Black Coffee are a timeless blend of jazz, R&B and rock and roll – a blend that has been perfected by Steely Dan with anally retentive precision, but Kooper keeps it loose and relaxed, choosing feel over technique. The tracks …
by Hugh Fielder
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