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by Lee Hildebrand

San Francisco Examiner, May 2, 1999

           During a jovial 1982 living room rendition of "Hit The Road Jack," a tune he composed for Ray Charles, Percy Mayfield sways from side to side, snapping his fingers to the pumping piano rhythm of Mark Naftalin. Still singing, he dances into the adjacent kitchen, where he pours himself a brandy separator.

           Taped during an informal two-man jam session at Mayfield's Los Angeles home in 1982, two years before his death, the scene is a highlight of the documentary "Percy Mayfield -- Poet Laureate Of The Blues," one of three long-unavailable half-hour videos Naftalin has reissued through his San Rafael-based Winner Producing Company.

           The Mayfield tape also includes an interview with Mayfield, comments from Charles and B.B. King and performance footage of the singer with Naftalin's band at the Sleeping Lady Cafe in Fairfax.

           Mayfield can also be seen, along with pioneering Oakland bluesman Lowell Fulson (who died March 9), in "Mark Naftalin's Blue Monday Party, Volume 1," which was taken from a series of weekly engagements that ran from 1979 to 1983 at the tiny Sleeping Lady. Volume 2 features Charlie Musselwhite and John Lee Hooker with an all-star band including Naftalin, Francis Clay and the late Luther Tucker.

           There are times during Hooker's relaxed 1981 performance -- a rare document of the bluesman's music from a 12-year period in which he made no albums -- when he and the band seem to be moving in different directions, yet Naftalin manages to resolve the harmonic limbo with his riveting chord changes. "I guess that's what it meant to be a bandleader on that occasion," the one-time Butterfield Blues Band keyboardist says. The videos are available in stores or through Naftalin's www.bluespower.com Web site.