Zydeco Zest

The late Beau Jocque was considered one of zydeco's most promising entertainers when he died last year at age 47. The towering accordionist focused on the hard beats and deep grooves that attracted happy feet to the dance floor.

An artistic late bloomer, Jocque was nonetheless a powerful presence in a traditional genre with his use of rock, rap, and modern blues alongside R&B rhythms.

On Give Him Cornbread, Live!, "Beau Jocque Boogie" paraphrases a line or two from War's mid-'70s soul-rock anthem "Low Rider." Hi-Roller Ray Johnson opens "Brownskin Woman" (RealAudio excerpt) with some scintillating electric blues guitar work, and contributes a similarly exciting solo to the dynamic "Damballah."

Big Joe Williams' pleading "Baby Please Don't Go" gets a zesty workout with extended instrumental passages. Another highlight is the rocking treatment given John Lee Hooker's "Boogie Chillen" (RealAudio excerpt).

Half of the 12 songs clock in at a dance-friendly length of more than five minutes apiece. The disc was recorded in 1993 in Lake Charles, La., at a "battle of the bands" between Jocque and a seminal influence, Boozoo Chavis.

Jocque's " 'Gardez Donc!" and the traditional "Grand Marais" were probably more invigorating for dancers there, but from a listener's perspective, it's interesting that two of the strongest songs — "Bad Bad Woman" (RealAudio excerpt) and "Do It All Night" — were written by Chavis.