Review by Greg Haymes
Photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk
Additional photographs by Ed Conway
FULL DISCLOSURE: During my high school days, my family got our first pet cat, and I promptly named him Kooper. “That’s Kooper with a ‘K’,” I would proudly point out to anyone who asked. “Like Al Kooper.”
My feline companion passed away long ago, but Al Kooper is still going strong at the age of 70. He’s been a semi-regular at The Egg in recent years, and he’s never disappointed. This show – billed as “Al Kooper’s 70th Birthday Concert” – promised to be something a little extra special. And it was… even though Kooper eventually admitted that his 70th birthday was actually on February 5.
For years, Kooper was the musical Zelig, simply the coolest cat on the rock scene. He not only led such ground-breaking bands as urban blues mavericks the Blues Project and horn-rock pioneers Blood Sweat & Tears, but also traveled the road-less-traveled with his solo albums (check out 1968’s dizzying delirium, I Stand Alone) and helped shape pop music history with his session work (the signature organ part on Bob Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone.” Need I say more? OK, Jimi Hendrix, the Rolling Stones, the Who, the Byrds, B.B. King, Ravi Shankar…) and his masterful, behind-the-scenes production work (from the Tubes to Lynyrd Skynyrd to Rick Nelson and beyond).