Review: Zora Young & Little Mike And The Tornadoes – Friday Night

Posted on: Sunday, Nov 1, 2015


Zora Young & Little Mike And The Tornadoes – Friday Night

(ELROB: ER15234)

Born in Mississippi, Zora Young moved with her family to Chicago at the age of seven, where she began singing gospel music in church. Despite being a relative of Howling Wolf’s she only picked up on the blues as an adult, becoming a regular on the Windy City’s club scene. Since then though she has accumulated a reasonably sized discography – she is certainly not over-recorded by any means, and so this set is very welcome.

Backed by the acclaimed New York group led by harmonica ace Michael Markowitz, she turns in an excellent old school Chicago blues set. Her fine, sassy, and soulful vocals are backed by a solid band who know their stuff, whether that is a relaxed but determined turn at Little Walter’s ‘Just Your Fool’ or ‘Country Girl’, Zora’s adaptation of Lucille Spann’s version of her husband Otis’s tune – which is a good point at which to draw attention to keyboards player Jim McKaba, although he does that himself with the closing instrumental, ‘Spann’s Boogie’.

The five originals are fine compositions and I was indeed pleased to find a cover of Howling Wolf’s version of ‘44 Blues’ – not the easiest tune to do well. Sometime bandleader in his own right Brad Vickers plays bass, Robert Piazza drums, and there is some use of the two man horn section of Rick Johnson and Gary Smith (sax and trumpeter respectively), particularly on the several numbers in a slightly funkier bag. Guitarist Tony Melio has the lion’s share of the instrumental breaks (but not excessively so), which is fine as he’s such a tasteful and appropriate musician.

All in all, if you like your blues straight down the line, you’ll go for this.


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