Milton Hopkins & Jewel Brown

Austin's Dialtone Records has already done right by Houston blues, releasing albums by Little Joe Washington and the late Earl Gilliam as well as the Texas Southside Kings CD, but the pairing of Jewel Brown and Milton Hopkins deserves some attention on more than just a local level. Both Brown and Hopkins are Houston natives who left for high-profile musical jobs – Brown as featured vocalist in Louis Armstrong's Orchestra, Hopkins as B.B. King's lead guitarist and bandleader – but eventually returned home and have been linchpins of the local blues community for many years. That makes it even more remarkable that the duo have never recorded before now. But the simply titled Milton Hopkins & Jewel Brown is a perfectly matched pairing of talents across a wide spectrum of blue notes including jazz ballads, country blues, gospel, a lot of soul and even a little reggae on the infectious "Jerry." When it's time to tally up the year-end albums list, this one will be near the top.

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