THE KINSEY REPORT uncorked two generations of the blues Thursday night in the Tralfamadore Jazz Institute. First the Kinseys, three of whom are brothers, poured out the younger version. Then they brought out the vintage stuff in the person of patriarch Lester (Big Daddy) Kinsey.
The youthful blues of the Kinsey quartet was as snappy and head-twisting as freshly brewed moonshine. Though they showed whiffs of the style of their native city -- they did a proper rendition of "Sweet Home Chicago" -- they preferred the punch of R&B and blues-rock. And what a punch they packed.
Compared by some to currently popular blues-rockers Living Colour, the Kinseys seemed to have taken all the blues that the British appropriated during the '60s and stole it back again. One of their revelations was the way they spiked "Game of Love," the old 1965 Wayne Fontana and the Mindbenders' hit. As one exiting fan noted: "If Jimi Hendrix was still alive, he'd love to jam with these guys."
Key to the Kinsey recipe was singer and lead guitarist Donald Kinsey, a dude in a white hat who made many triumphant excursions to the top of his fretboard. Hendrix fireworks weren't his style -- he played it straight -- but he didn't need gimmickry to put his points across.
Donald Kinsey's job was to dazzle. The rest of the band -- bassist Ken Kinsey, drummer Ralph Kinsey and dreadlocked rhythm guitarist Ron Prince -- generated the background wattage and plenty of it. Not surprisingly, they were as loud as any rock band.
Introduced midway through each of their two sets was an appropriately potent harmonica player named Little Matthew, a not-so-diminuitive white bluesman who blew not only with power but with finesse, running single-note arpeggios as neatly as the guitar did.
Saved for last was 62-year-old Big Daddy Kinsey, a mountain of a man with a full head of dark hair and a gruff voice that was all low overtones, like Bobby Blue Bland's. While his sons grew up in Chicago, he'd come up to the Windy City from Mississippi, like many other blues singers after World War II.
Beginning with "Going to New York," his songs were straight-ahead four-four propositions, as opposed to the syncopated propositions his sons had made, and in terms of sheer energy, they were less compelling at first.
Then again, it simply took Big Daddy Kinsey a bit more time to warm up to singing. And as he did, the band warmed up to his kind of music. By the time he reached the classic "I'm a Man" to climax the second set, both generations were gloriously in sync.