Music You Don't Know You Like Yet
Harmonica ace Mark Hummel has always surrounded himself with top notch talent. Since 1991he has hosted an annual traveling Harmonica Blow Out featuring a who’s who of traditional and cutting edge harmonica players. In recent years he enlisted the talents of Little Charlie Baty and Anson Funderburgh on guitar, RW Grigsby on bass and Wes Starr on drums to round out the band backing the harmonica guests. This release features that core of musicians along with special guests Jim Pugh on keys and Eric Spaulding and Jack Sanford on saxophones. The name of the crew is a nod to Hummel, Grigsby and Baty’s long tenures in California and the rest of the band’s Texas homesteads. The result of melding the upbeat, swing oriented West Coast sound with the more traditional blues championed by the Texas crew is a great listen. While Hummel certainly spends time on center stage with both his vocals and harmonica, most prominently on the instrumental "Walking with Mr. Lee", this is no mere harmonica showcase. Instead, this is a true band release with everyone getting a chance to shine. For example, drummer Wes Starr starts "Lucky Kewpie Doll" with a solo and "Pepper Mama" not only starts with Funderberg’s stinging guitar riff but features it the entire track. Stylistically, there is everything here from spare atmospheric numbers that convey a sense of dread, "End of the World", to upbeat swing, "Prove It To You" and Lowell Fulson’s "Check Yourself", raw Chicago blues, "Dim Lights", slow, loping jazz, "Cool To Be Your Fool" and Mose Allison’s "Stop This World", to straight blues shuffles, Grigsby’s "Detroit Blues" and dance floor ready cuts including Hummel’s "Lucky Kewpie Doll" and the Jimmy McCracklin classic, "Georgia Slop". Top notch from start to finish, skip this one at your peril. Smitty
review by Mark
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