06 April 2018 (released)
21 April 2018
There have not been too many Blues Harmonica players lauded as being on a par with the greats of Blues music but Little Walter was undoubtedly on of the most original and influential of them all.
He invented the technique of playing his harp with hands cupped around a microphone and playing it through a guitar amp – now standard practise for all harpists but he was way ahead of the rest.
This was a man who influenced Count Basie’s horn section, Mick Jagger’s playing style and even the great Miles Davis.
This album by Giles Robson – in my opinion one of the best harpists Britain has produced – and Chris Corcoran is a celebration of Little Walter’s music and by using Honeyboy amps re-creating the sound of the man and demonstrating just how influential he was.
As a humble reviewer I get to hear dozens of Blues artists who somehow manage to avoid acknowledging their influences but this set of tunes not only acknowledges it but clearly shows that without Little Walter Jacobs there would be so much less of what we call Blues today.
The music here is remarkably fresh. Robson and Corcoran are the only two musicians heard here but there is no lack of dynamism or variation in tone or tempo.
On almost all of the songs Robson plays ‘the dots’ to get the number started but goes his own way on the solos – although still in the style of Walter – in order to show that the music is alive, living and breathing. The result is electrifying. It is almost as though this was music never heard before yet incredibly familiar and comforting.
Just listening to the title track you hear the see-saw breathing that starts the song off but it then flows into a completely original riff, almost psychedelic in its variation and definitely jazz-like in the way that it circles around and back to the theme of the song.
Or then the ballad ‘Deep South Guitar Blues’ with Corcoran playing a classic Blues progression and Robson answering every section with a howl from the heart.
‘Mr Jacobs’ has amazing pacing with Corcoran jamming around and underneath Robson’s riff in a terrific reversal of form.
No question, I enjoyed listening to this from the first notes to the last, so much so that I went straight back to the start and enjoyed it all over again multiple times.
Little Walter was an amazing influence on the world of music as we know it and this album is completely justified in the way that it represents his genius. Exceptional.