James Tony - keyboards; Calep Emphrey - drums; Joe Turner - bass ; Milton Hopkins - guitar; B.B. King - guitar, vocals; Kato Walker - alto sax; Walter King - tenor sax; Eddie Roe - trumpet; Steve Sherard - trombone; Eddie Saxman Synigal - baritone saxophone; Guest: Johnny Winter - guitar; Guest: Edgar Winter - sax, keyboards
Blues legend B.B. King was in fine form when he recorded this performance, one of six sets captured at New York's Bottom Line club in June of 1978 for broadcast on the King Biscuit Flower Hour. At the time, the tour was billed "An Evening With The B.B. King Orchestra," and King does not hesitate to make us aware that he is indeed leading a big band.
After a 10-minute warm-up by the band, King takes the stage halfway through the introduction jam song. When the band finishes, they launch into King's signature opener, "Caledonia," which had been a big hit in the blues community 30 years earlier when it was made famous by Louis Jordan. King has been using "Caledonia" (and "Let The Good Times Roll") as his signature opening songs for four decades. It sounds just as good today as it did decades earlier.
When King played this show, he had just finished recording an album with the Crusaders, who were trying to take him in a more commercialized, funky, jazzier direction. But for this show, and most of his recordings thereafter, King stuck to what he knew best—the blues.
After his signature classic, "The Thrill Is Gone," King spends 11 minutes telling the audience the story of how an unknown 14-year-old guitarist from Beaumont, Texas came to his show, sat in, and impressed the audience enough to get standing ovation. King says they didn't meet again for almost 10 years when they co-headlined the Fillmore East together. As the crowd roars, both Johnny and Edgar Winter jump on stage and join King in a smokin' hot version of "Going Down Slow."
Despite ups and downs in the music industry, B.B. King has never gone out of style. He remains the consummate blues professional and he continues to tour globally.