Professor Longhair

instrumental piano funk // african rhumba

Looking through Afro Funk, volume 5 from the incredible Rare Funk 12-disc series, I knew I’d find plenty to like. Some ass-grabbin’ Fela Kuti leads the record off to a roaring afrobeat start. And if you got the great funkin’ action of The Mohawks and The Equals tying it up nicely, you know there’s gotta be some hot groove sitting in the middle. Well, “Big Chief” by Professor Longhair is it! Some sloppy-hand piano licks drop you right in, followed up by a african breakbeat, and some bass and horns give the song a bluesy AABA structure that’s relentless at getting you into the groove.
It’s a short, but potent number from the vinyl funk past.

Professor Longhair – Big Chief

6 Responses to “Professor Longhair”

  1. R. Piggy :

    Damn good post!

  2. taylor :

    where can I pick up this set?

  3. Jesse :

    Great pick — Fess, as he was known, was a legend of New Orleans piano. Anyone who likes this should check out Dr. John, who more or less took the torch from Fess. In fact, I might have to do a Dr. John post sometime soon…

  4. Paul Irish :

    The Rare Funk series is on the Cobalt label, from 1995. This particular release is number COBLP-1008.

    Satellite records is out of stock.
    as are most other vinyl outfits. is looking to be the best online resource i can find for these hard to find gems, some results there.

  5. Matthew Deacon :

    You guys have to get to know Fess better. He’s one of the true geniuses of the blues. This track is not actually professor longhair’s creation; a great arranger and composer named earl king wrote this and is the guy whistling on this track, but I’m sure that fess arranged the piano part. Check him out playing his catchiest tune Tipitina on

  6. Daniel :

    The form of this song isn’t AABA, it follows a 12 bar blues form. I chord for four bars, IV chord for two bars, I chord for another 2 bars, and then a ii – V – I that more or less defines the blues form.