Chicago Blues Harmonica Project

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Chicago Blues Harmonica Project

Postby blueswriter » Thu May 07, 2009 9:51 pm

Various Artists
Chicago Blues Harmonica Project - More Rare Gems
Severn (2009) CD 0046


12 tracks, 49 minutes. Excellent. If someone tells you that the art of playing blues harp is close to dead, or has been completely taken over by young and middle-aged caucasians wearing porkpie hats, hand them a copy of the latest volume of the Chicago Blues Harmonica Project. It's all the proof you'll need that the rumor mill has its facts wrong. Sadly, Little Arthur Duncan didn't live to see this release, but his two contributions are tough features in the classic Windy City mode. Can't Stand It No More and Gone To Main Street display the influence of both Little Walter and Muddy Waters. Harmonica Hinds leaves another solid impression as a carrier of the torch by offering up a pair of originals. The humorous Kill That Mouse sports a Jimmy Reed-like bounce along with Sunday Morning Blues, a top-notch harp shuffle. Charlie Love puts up a powerful version of Howlin' Wolf's Ooh Baby, Hold Me as well as a nice reading of The 12 Year Old Boy, and Reginald Cooper delivers the double-entendre Shade Tree Mechanic. However, it is Cooper's slow and threatening take on Give Me Back That Wig that's a standout complete with gritty harmonica and gruff vocals. Russ Green's thick and distorted harp adds considerable interest to Johnny Guitar Watson's Gangster Of Love and Jeff Taylor delivers another well-recognized standard with Honest I Do. And although the name Big D might not register on your radar screen, he's a potent harmonica player and soulful singer, as proven on Slim Harpo's I've Got To Be With You Tonight and the greasy Well You Know. The tight backing is provided by the dual guitar efforts of Illinois Slim and Rick Kreher, while Mark Brumbach adds fine piano with E.G. McDaniel and Twist Turner anchoring the grooves on bass and drums. More Rare Gems picks up right where Severn's 2005 release of Diamonds In The Rough left off. It's more pure and uncluttered Chicago Blues, with the spotlight aimed on some of the lesser-known but very talented proponents of harmonica. Well done.

© 2009 by Craig Ruskey
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