The Jelly Roll All-Stars are a rare group of musicians comprised of some of the upper echelon of classic Blues session-men from the golden age of the genre: Calvin “Fuzz” Jones (Bass) and multiple W.C. Handy Award winner, Willie “Big Eyes” Smith (Drums/Vocals) were the rhythm section for Blues great, Muddy Waters for nearly two decades; Sam Carr (Drums), son of Robert Nighthawk played with the Jelly Roll Kings, the Delta Jukes, and Sonny Boy Williamson II; and Arthur Williams (Vocals/Harp), who shared stages with Elmore James and Junior Wells. Must Be Jelly was recorded raw with no overdubs in the legendary WROX Blues Radio studio in Clarksdale, MS with everyone playing together in real time. Features accompanists Bob Lohr (piano) and Jesse Hoggard (Piano).
“If you think this CD has a ‘live’ sound, it’s no accident: it was recorded in one room, with no “isolation booths”, no overdubs and everybody playing together. Other than a slight echo effect now and again, it was undertaken without electronic enhancement, using ‘genre-appropriate equipment (!)’ and, by and large, with one take per track. In other words, what you have here is real blues men playing real blues music in a very real way!
“Don’t get me wrong, I listen to a lot of recorded music… in fact, I’ve produced a few records… and I appreciate sonically pleasing music, the likes of what’s produced using socalled state of the art equipment, digital gear and electronic effects. But that’s what you get on almost every record (yes, CD’s are records, by virtue of the fact that they are recorded) out there today. It’s the norm. We strove for something different—something in keeping with the music and artists we were privileged to record.
“You see, Sam Carr, Fuzz Jones, Big Eyes Smith and Arthur Williams (and stellar accompanists, Bob Lohr and Jesse Hoggard)—the Jelly Roll All-Stars, don’t just play the music that’s the foundation of all that’s come after it, they live the lives of its creation. As we like to say when we talk about these men and their art, ‘If you’re suited for undiluted, let the Jelly Roll!'” — Jay Sheffield
Special thanks to Jerry Pillow, Mark O’ Shaughnessy, John May, Joe Edwards, Duy Trinh, the “spiritual advisers” at BB’s Jazz Blues & Soups in St. Louis: Eric Helwig, Nick Helwig and Sharon Hoskins, Martyn & Mandy Hillery, Gene & Carol Tomko, all the gang at the Rauma Blues Festival-Rauma Finland, Amos Harvey, Carson Lamm at Rum Boogie Cafe, Memphis, Dave Beardsley at stlblues.net.
Arthur Williams: Vocals (tracks 4, 5, 6, 8, 12, 13); Harp (all tracks except 1, 3); Spoken Intro (tracks 1, 3)
Willie “Big Eyes” Smith: Drums (tracks 5, 6, 9, 11, 12, 14); Vocals (tracks 2, 10); Tambourine (track 2)
Calvin “Fuzz” Jones: Bass Guitar
Sam Carr: Drums (tracks 2, 7, 8, 10)
Jesse Hoggard: Guitar (all tracks); Vocals (tracks 7, 9, 11)
Bob Lohr: Acoustic/Electric Piano
Produced by James Mathus, Bob Lohr And Douglas Rayburn
Executive Producer: Jay Sheffield
Recorded by James Mathus and Will Dawson at Delta Recording Service, Clarksdale, MS
Mixed and Edited by Bob Lohr and Douglas Rayburn at The Benton Park Studio, St. Louis, MO
Mastered by David Earl at Severn Sound Studio, Severn MD
Photography by Steve Roberts
Design by Al Brandtner, Brandtner Design, Chicago, IL