East Side Slim
Nye; Ville du Bois – Ricky Nye In Paris
1-2-3 Records, 2008
Nye (Rick Neiheisel) is an incredible Cincinnati-based,
blues-based piano player. He’s been actively
playing blues, boogie, jazz and other styles since
the late 1980s. Ricky has a wonderful touch on the
keys, being able to impart much emotion to his playing.
This isn’t as easy as it sounds, because unlike
guitar or harp or horn, you can’t “bend”
notes on a piano. It all has to come from a player’s
technical ability and “feel”. Well,
Ricky has feel, and vast amounts of technical ability.
du Bois was recorded in Paris, France, basically
in the home of the bass player heard on this CD,
Thibaut Chopin. All of the band members heard here,
with whom Ricky has been playing during his European
trips for the past three years, are incredibly sympathetic
players. They aren’t Europeans trying to play
blues; they are blues-loving players who happen
to be European. These cats can play – pay
special attention to guitarist Anthony Stelmaszack.
You will likely grow to enjoy his playing as much
as I did.
1. Walk That Walk: -- This tune
is a fun mid-tempo boogie with killer West Coast-style
guitar thrown in for good measure. There are lyrics
to the tune, but the focus is really Ricky’s
2. Ville du Bois: -- This is the
title track from the album. If the internet French-to-English
translator I used worked correctly, Ville du Bois
translates to City of Wood. I thought Paris was
the City of Light, but maybe the title refers to
the construction material of most of the instruments
used on this CD. Or maybe not… Anywho, this
instrumental is very nice, another mid-tempo tune
(more in a West Coast vibe heard in the late 1940s
with Lloyd Glenn or someone) with Ricky playing
some sweet runs and with some more of that nice
guitar sound heard in the 1st track.
3. Cherry Red: -- This is Nye’s
take on an old Big Joe Turner/Pete Johnson tune,
done-up very faithfully in the Kansas City jazz/blues
style Turner and Johnson played back in the day.
It’s a slower song with lots of “feel”,
with none of the players being in a hurry. It’s
got a laid-back late-night vibe.
4. Going To Cincinnati: -- This
tune (credited to “Estes”, although
I’ve not been able to confirm if it was Sleepy
John Estes or not) is a fitting cover for Ricky,
as he is based in Cincinnati. This mid-tempo song
has a much more down-home, early electric Chicago
blues feel (Rollin’ & Tumblin’?)
than any of the previous tracks. It sounds great.
5. Lord Lord Lord: -- This song
is one of Nye’s own compositions, and it also
has a Chicago blues feel. It’s an up-tempo
track, one I can hear someone like Sunnyland Slim
knocking out. Once again there’s some fine
guitar work here, played in a faithful 1950s style
– playing to the song and to the ensemble.
6. If The Rabbit Had A Gun: --
Here’s the 3rd track in a row played in the
Chicago blues style. It’s a slow, low-down
tune with some nice harmonica backing (played in
a Snooky Pryor fashion.) Ricky peels off some very
nice runs here. He’s got a great touch and
a real feel for this type of material.
7. Little Village: -- Yes, this
is the old Sonny Boy 2 song from his Chess records
days. There is some harp present, but the focus
is really on the ensemble sound. The more I hear
from the guitar player the more I like him - very
classy and tasteful. The big chords of this song
are probably more out-front than any other instrumentation,
although the drummer’s brush work sounds mighty
8. Nancy Pants / No No: -- We’re
in Chicago no more! This tune, or medley of tunes
(1st part from Ricky, 2nd from Fats Domino), is
from the old New Orleans style. It has a definite
ragtime basis, and is heavily syncopated. Ricky
does seem to be able to play most any style he wants,
and to do it in a convincing, legitimate manner.
Piano is the star of this show!
9. Dirty Rag: -- This is a fast
moving instrumental track done in a jazzed-up ragtime-ish
style. It’s a lot of fun and it gives the
rhythm players a chance to stretch out a bit and
have a ball.
Chicken a la Blues: -- This tune moves
us back to more of a late night, after hours feel,
similar in feel to one of Memphis Slim’s slower
cuts, at least in the instrumental work. Ricky won’t
ever be confused with someone like Slim in the vocal
department. Ricky works well with what he has, but
singing isn’t his strong-suit. However, his
playing is “Grade A”! My favorite line
from this song – “Saturday we ate scrambled
eggs…and you know that’s chicken, too!”
11. CC Rider: -- I’m not
sure the World needs another recorded version of
this old chestnut, but the band here really plays
a nice version of the tune. Ricky plays his piano
in a Memphis Slim mode, bringing out the melancholy
feel of this song. I’m sure many of us have
heard this song so often that we stop listening
to it, to why so many players wanted to perform
it in the first place. Ricky gives us a good reminder
of how good this song really can be.
Creole Boogie: -- A set-ending instrumental
track, this is a fine way to end the CD - one last
boogie woogie piano tune to send us off in style.
This track roars along like a barely under control
freightliner; it’s still going in a straight
line but threatens to break all kind of loose any
I have to admit, in all fairness, that I love piano
blues. Mr. Ricky Nye is a heck of a piano player,
a master, really. He displays his ability to play
many styles on this CD, and he plays them all remarkably
well. His singing voice may take some of you awhile
to get use to (it took me awhile – my own
issues that I will not burden you nor influence
you with.) Spend your time focusing on his playing,
and on the band’s accompaniment, and you will
be well rewarded.
you like piano players, then this album is for you.
If you don’t like piano players, well, we’ll
have to get you into some solid blues remedial therapy
and see if we can’t cure what ails you (even
guitar players don’t listen to guitar players
all the time!) For a start, pick up this CD and
play it non-stop for 6, no…7 straight plays.
Doctor’s orders! STLBluesometer rating for
Ricky Nye – Ville du Bois = 4.00, Ricky Nye
does play in St. Louis on occasion, usually at Brandt’s
in University City if I’m not mistaken. The
gigs aren’t usually well publicized, so check
out Ricky’s website for upcoming playing
"East Side Slim"