Recorded in front of a hometown Chicago crowd and predating the sessions for his debut studio LP The New Folk Sound of Terry Callier
by about a month, Live at Mother Blues: 1964
's folk-jazz hybrid in its embryonic stages, documenting the genesis of his signature aesthetic in its most intimate and natural setting. Accompanied by a pair of bassists (John Tweedle and Turbough Attenborough) in imitation of John Coltrane
subverts traditional material like "Drill Ye Tarriers," "The Gambler Song," and "Lizzy Mae," sticking close to the original melodies but expanding the songs in structure and scope by favoring extended instrumental passages and vocal improvisations; the opener, a cover of the Nat Adderley
/Oscar Brown, Jr. composition "Work Song," comes closest to capturing a true marriage of folk and jazz in its spare, slow-burning intensity. Even this early in his development, Callier
is in full command of his skills -- his soulful vocals simmer with gospel-like passion, and his guitar work is hypnotic and intricate, navigating the dual bass backdrops with serpentine dexterity.