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Blues For Big Walter

2016-04-27

This all-star tribute to harmonica legend Big Walter Horton features modern day disciples of the “Mississippi Saxophone” including Kim Wilson, Mark Wenner (Nighthawks), Sugar Ray Norcia, Bob Corritore, Mark Hummel, Steve Guyger, Li’l Ronnie Owens, Kurt Crandall and Andrew Alli. None other than Willie Dixon proclaimed Big Walter the best harmonica player he ever heard and he was a constant presence on the Chicago blues scene from the 50’s through his death in 1981 at the age of 60. In between he played for a who’s who of the blues and left his mark on countless recordings. By its very nature, this is a harmonica heavy release with every track featuring a classic Chicago blues backdrop and solid renditions of Big Walter’s single note lines and broad, horn-like tone. Things move at a deliberate pace with none of the million notes per bar that epitomizes the work of many modern players. As a result, tone, control and phrasing make all the difference in the impact of the cuts. Highlights include Sugar Ray’s eighteen minute plus medley of "That Ain’t It, Walter’s Boogie, Everybody’s Fishing, I don’t Get Around Much and Blueberry Hill", which could fill the dance floor at a funeral and contains a solid showcase of almost everything that can be done on a harmonica, Mark Hummel and Adrew Alli’s separate solid takes on the classic, "Easy", Li’l Ronnie’s Think Big and Bob Corritore’s greasy reading of "Rambling On My Mind" which gets more than a little help from the legendary Robert Lockwood on guitar and vocals. The entire set benefits from a raw, unpolished production that dumps the glossy sheen of modern recordings and evokes the time that Big Walter stalked the stage- a trip in time well worth taking. Smitty

review by Mark

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Compiled by the WYCE Journalism Club

The opinions expressed in these reviews are those of the individual volunteers that submitted the article and do not necessarily reflect the views of WYCE or GRCMC; nor its staff, donors, or affiliates.