Henry Kaiser/Rome Yamilov

The Lenoir Investigation
(Little Village)

A primary takeaway from the The Lenoir Investigation, featuring adventurist guitarist Henry Kaiser, supports the notion that the blues, for all its rudimentary musical values, can accommodate outside aesthetic intervention and reinvention. Foundationally, the project led by Kaiser and vocalist-guitarist Rome Yamilov celebrates individualist blues legend J.B. Lenoir (1929–’67) — plus Bo Diddley’s “Rollercoaster.” These 11 tracks operate mostly within blues rules, with a handful of chords and a variety of grooves (some taking liberties with the sources), delivered within organic, unassuming charm.

What sets this project apart, blues-wise, is the wildcard Kaiser factor.

Over his unclassifiable musical life, Kaiser has found ways to inject left-of-center sensibilities into groove-driven settings. He channeled another alt-avant-blues spirit, à la Captain Beefheart, on Crazy Backwards Alphabet and echoed the electric Miles Davis voodoo-era sound of Pete Cozy on Yo Miles (with Wadada Leo Smith in the Miles role).

The core band, with blues harp ace Aki Kumar, bassist-vocalist Kid Anderson, drummer June Core and trusty pianist/organist Jim Pugh, lays down grooves not always in keeping with the Mississippi/New Orleans/Chicago home turfs of Lenoir. Ska sneaks into the mix on “The Whale Has Swallowed Me,” and we get hints of a Tuareg/Saharan feel on “Mojo Boogie,” funk sauces on “God’s Word” and cumbia meets Norwegian lyricizing on “Na er Jeg I Form! (Play A Little While).”

On Sale Now
December 2022
Kenny Barron
Look Inside
Print | Digital | iPad