“Big Mama” Thornton and the Holding Company

NEW YORK (LNS)—Tuesday night at Ungano’s Discotheque, located just west of Amsterdam Avenue at 70th St., the atmosphere: dark, the clientele: negligible.

Willie Mae “Big Mama” Thornton, who headed the bill, relaxed in the back room between sets, as the hard throb of records splayed out across the empty dance floor. One of the truly all-time great blues artists, with a powerful emotive and oh-so-sensitive voice that transcends those of both the classical female giants, such as Bessie Smith, and many of the traditionally-styled male bluesmen, Big Mama even now has received scant attention for her dynamic performances here and in Europe.