A husband and wife team whose union weathered all manner of career peaks and furrows, Billie and DeDe Pierce played the Crescent City scene for the better part of forty years. Billie initially sharpened her piano chops in the black bottom bands of Ma Rainey, Bessie Smith and Ida Cox while DeDe was a regular on the marching band circuit. Produced by Chris Albertson for his short-lived but indispensable New Orleans Living Legends series, this late in the game session visits them in the company of local percussionist Albert Jiles, who doubles on kit and an assortment of tuned bells. The blues and tonks promised in the title constitute meaty fare for the three and they celebrate such staples as “St. James Infirmary” and “Millenberg Joys” with audible zeal. Their take on the former song is one of my favorites on record, roughshod, but ripe with the regal melancholy at the root of the mortality-obsessed lyrics. DeDe’s brass style is built on an obvious Armstrong chassis, his smears and trills aping early Satchmo as Billie generates forceful rolls and fills at his flank. Her colloquial vocals encompass a belting delivery and she isn’t the least bit averse to turning a blue verse either as her frank musings on the ode to harlotry “In the Racket” ably indicate. Jiles inculcates himself expertly into the duo’s personalized sound; keeping an unobtrusive syncopated beat, but also veering off with oddly pitched accents from his struck bell tree. The trio taped enough material at the session for a second volume, but it’s this one that I return to most frequently for a ration of trad jazz refreshingly off the beaten path.