Masterfully crafting two cooks into one kitchen is a near impossible task, the daunting and experimental leadership that the two orchestrate makes creating a perfect balance nearly impossible. Here on In Session with Albert King and Stevie Ray Vaughan, nearly every track displays some sense of blues leadership that somehow coincides within the masterful playing of both Vaughan and King.
Where In Session shines the brightest is in the improvisation methods from the two samurais that essentially trade blows throughout the record. Albert King who is best known for his trailblazing ability where his focus on being intense and eye-catching was more important than being technical. Vaughan follows a similar fashion who ignited the blues world when he burst onto the scene as a revivalist of the genre. Nearly half King’s age, Vaughan was able to introduce a fresh face that transpires into the In Session recordings.
With the opening track, “Call It Stormy Monday” where King and Vaughan work together to trade attacks in this gentle game of sparring, every guitar lick, riff, and groove is lifted by a band of alternative artists who can contribute as more than just simply the background. The band consists of Tony Llorens on piano and organ, Gus Thornton on bass, and finally Michael Llorens on the percussion; each piece acts as a treasure chest. Even through the multiple versions of the record that stretch on the In Session recordings, each style is necessary but deliberate.
The performances on In Session instantly create a flashback of this southern gentlemen attire that sits alone at the bar, quiet and reserve but eager to be the life of a room. King’s playstyle conflicts slightly with Vaughan’s as the two play similarly but using King’s vocal approach mixed with his often frantic styling that requires some foundational methods. The most impressive moments of In Session come from those times where both guitarists can be the spotlight and then play the supporting role. It eliminates the tension and is more of a straight to the jam grouping of pieces where sound is more important than flash.
Each piece on the record requires the listener to strap in and get comfortable as most of the tracks are drawn-out and become continually moving keys. Whether using King or Vaughan as the driving force behind the record, In Session becomes an almost unobtainable standard for what blues records consist of. The need for intuition and dedication behind a rock solid band where chemistry is the most formidable combatant.