Jimmy Rogers, the blues guitarist whose work with Muddy Waters in the mid-'50s defined the sound of Chicago blues, opened at Desperado's last night with a brief but moving performance before a packed house. Judged by today's standards, Rogers guitar style is relaxed and understated. His solos seldom extend beyond a few bars, and his tone remains open and full. Compared to younger blues guitarists entranced by speed and volume, Rogers' subtle embellishments are genuinely refreshing.
His major concern has always been a song's rhythmic pulse, and last night he supported the beat faithfully with concise runs that also underlined his lyrics and accented his straight forward singing.
With Steve Guyger on harp and Ola Dixon on drums, his four-piece band began with a bittersweet shuffle and later produced a reasonable facsimile of Little Walter's "Last Night."
Their sound however, improved immeasurably when Rogers joined them onstage, playing the cascading riffs that kick off "That's Alright," his most popular song. Despite the short duration of the opening set (one of four), a selection of songs ("You're the One," "Loudella") focused tightly on Rogers' discriminating technique. They also reflected his long-held philosphy that for some guitarists, less really is more.