B.B. King Live in Nice (Part II)
Nice Jazz Festival 1979
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BB King — Bandleader, guitarist, baritone
C. Owens — Trumpeter
Phil Blackman — Pianist
BB King's Band
It is thanks to notorious producer George Wein that we have unique documents like this 1979, two-part BB King concert. When the Newport Jazz festival went to Europe (even performing behind the Iron Curtain), European producers struck deals with Wein to film these one-off events, preserving beautiful and significant musical moments that would otherwise have been lost. Here, the King of the blues plays to a crowd on the French Riviera in the month of July, delivering a set full of style, grace and the kind of hard-won, invisible mastery that few musicians ever accomplish.
Evening has drawn in on this summer’s day and, for his second set, BB has changed into a beautiful suit jacket whose colors match the approaching sunset. The “dynamic gentleman of the blues” kicks off with the same set before launching into the Willie Nelson-penned “Night Life.” The trumpeter C. Owens, a close collaborator with King, offers a powerful, multi-textured solo while the pianist Phil Blackman combines with King on the final track for a floating, nuanced and suitably bluesy finale. The performance marks a rare opportunity to watch the master enjoying himself on a balmy evening, unleashing his world-class voice with the ease and charm that endeared him to so many.