By Bobby Reed | Published October 2020
The Chicago blues scene is so packed with talent that it’s not difficult to assemble a gifted ensemble flexible enough to mesh with a bandleader’s aesthetic. A case in point is Live At Rosa’s, Linsey Alexander’s fourth album for Delmark, on which the singer-guitarist fronts an ace quintet that includes bassist Ron Simmons (who has collaborated with him for more than 40 years) and keyboard wizard Roosevelt Purifoy, who has played on albums by Lurrie Bell, Toronzo Cannon, the Kinsey Report and Sharon Lewis.
Most blues fans aren’t attending live shows nowadays, and Alexander’s latest disc offers a hearty dose of what they’ve been missing: the type of meat-and-potatoes electric blues that long has been a staple in the Windy City.
The program here includes five of leader’s original compositions: “My Days Are So Long” and “I Got A Woman” are head-bobbing, blues-boogie numbers, while “Goin’ Out Walkin’” and “Snowing In Chicago” are vehicles for fiery solos by Purifoy and either Alexander or Sergei Androshin on electric guitar. On the other Alexander original, the funk-tinged “Going Back To My Old Time Used To Be,” Purifoy’s keyboards evoke Stevie Wonder’s work in the mid-’70s.
With his gruff yet solid vocals, Alexander serves up “Have You Ever Loved A Woman” (popularized by Freddie King and Eric Clapton) as a nine-minute, tour-de-force lament on the difficulties of romantic relationships. Elsewhere, the versions of songs by B.B. King (“Please Love Me”) and Junior Wells (“Ships On The Ocean”) give fans even more reasons to seek out the latest from Alexander, a Mississippi native who is now a revered elder statesman in Chicago.