From Jelly Roll Morton to Jon Batiste, the city of New Orleans has produced more great piano players than any other place on earth. But James Carroll Booker III may very well have been the greatest of them all. When he died in 1983 at the age of 43 after years of health problems and drug abuse, only four Booker albums had been released, and his fans have been searching for additional recordings that showcase his genius ever since. While virtually unknown in the US, Booker had a strong following in Germany and neighboring countries, where he played more than 100 shows between 1976 and 1978. These were the years of his creative peak, and Booker always maintained that he played better there than he did anytime or anywhere else. But what exactly happened during those tours has long remained a mystery – until now.
With its comprehensive new release 'Behind The Iron Curtain plus,' RICHARD WEIZE ARCHIVES intends to tell, for the very first time, the full story of James Booker's European adventures.
It includes three complete Booker shows on five CDs: East Berlin (December 1976), Lausanne (January 1977) and Leipzig (October 1977). Interestingly, at that time East Berlin and Leipzig were part of socialist East Germany, a country that no longer exists, and how Booker got there and why he played some of the best shows of his career behind the Iron Curtain, of all places, is a whole story unto itself.
James Booker was a virtuoso technician who combined influences as diverse as Ludwig van Beethoven and Ray Charles, Erroll Garner and Fats Domino, Frédéric Chopin and Professor
Longhair into a unique style of New Orleans R&B piano that hasn't been duplicated to this day. Plus he also sang with a bluesy, soulful voice full of anguish and emotion. No other posthumous Booker release has done full justice to his genius and we hope that 'Behind The Iron Curtain plus…' will lead to a new appraisal of one of American music's most gifted and overlooked originals.
CD 1 61:49 | CD 2 59:07
Haus der jungen Talente East Berlin
December 22, 1976
CD 3 72:26
January 27, 1977
CD 4 70:28 | CD 5 64:20
Moritzbastei Leipzig, East Germany
October 29, 1977