Champion Jack Dupree, Forever and Ever (Rounder Records)

Back Home in New Orleans, the legendary Champion Jack’s first-ever recording in New Orleans, was released last year to universal praise. However, Forever and Ever does that LP—which seemed to rely too heavily on standard blues clichés—one or two better, to the level of a modern blues masterpiece. Jack is relaxed and swinging with a New Orleans groove that puts the music so far back in the alley where even rats fear to tread. Listen to Dupree’s autobio of his sad New Orleans childhood in “They Gave Me Away.” But the unrestrained joy of this album is evident from the casual studio talk left in and Dupree’s scat singing. He even does a bit of the Mardi Gras Indian rhythms associated with Professor Longhair in “Yellow Pocahontas.” It’s all summed up when the elfin, evergreen 81-year-old romps through “Hometown New Orleans,” where “the barrelhouse started”… and, Jack asks with a wink, “how much more lowdown can you get than this?”