This appearance of harpist Alex “Easy Baby” Randall is an important event: although still a Chicago resident, Easy Baby has been virtually unheard for years. He’s a member of that vital second echelon of Chicago blues artists who made solid reputations for themselves in neighborhood clubs, cut a few records and influenced younger musicians, but have remained unknown outside their own communities and a small circle of collectors and aficionados. Easy Baby’s voice is taut and quivering in a way reminiscent of a slightly more relaxed Elmore James, and his harp style–sparse and melodious, with a sweet-toned intensity that brings a sense of purpose to his occasionally chaotic phrasing–though staunchly in the postwar Chicago tradition, is still distinctive. He’s at his best in a small band, with tasteful sidemen who are capable of providing him with rhythmic support but who can still leave a lot of space for his warbling, introspective leads. Finding a band like that in 1990 will be a challenge, but either way this is the kind of reemergence people used to travel to Chicago from Europe in hopes of seeing. Tonight, Rosa’s, 3420 W. Armitage; 342-0452.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Bruce Powell.