Ilya Portnov Debut Album Strong Brew

Ilya Portnov Debut Album Strong Brew

Ilya Portnov Debut Album Strong Brew

 

Russia born, now based in the USA harmonica player Ilya Portnov loves the blues. His debut instrumental solo album, Strong Brew, is a mix of old-school blues and ragtime with gypsy and tango-influenced tunes. Ilya says he wanted to feature different kinds of music that played a big role in his life. Originally, he had planned to include Brazilian choro and forro tracks but now he plans to release these on a separate album. Strong Brew, with seven self-penned tracks and two covers. The lively arrangement of the Rev Gary Davis classic, Cincinnati Flow Rag and in complete contrast, In a Town Garden. A composition from Malvey Blanter and Alexey Fatyanov a popular Russian tune of the 1940s and a favourite of Portnov’s grandmother. Ilya plays a mean diatonic harp and is ably backed by keys, guitar, drums and violin as he moves from 12 bar blues to ragtime to tango. The appropriately named track 1928 would work as music for a black and white film set in a smoky 1920s dance club while Surfing the Baltic Sea brings us a lilting gypsy influenced tune with virtuoso harp playing. Occasionally verging on the pedestrian but the album is ultimately intriguing. Ilya’s harmonica blends blues with folk music of Eastern Europe the combination of roots-infused music works. The mix of music is a refreshing take on the range of the harmonica and Ilya’s musical influences. Stand out tracks for this reviewer were the 12 bar blues Behind the Wall and the final blues track Till The Early Morning. The title track, Strong Brew is a smooth mix of bluesy harp over a prowling, slinky dance background – this could be the way to go for this versatile musician.

Ilya Portnov  – Strong Brew – Independent

SIXpawprint half inchdoodle paws out of TEN …

Track Listing

  1. Sunny Afternoon Blues
  2. Surfing The Baltic Sea
  3. Dance of A Lonely Doll
  4. Cincinnati Flow Rag
  5. In A Town Garden
  6. Behind The Wall
  7. Strong Brew
  8. 1928

Ilya Portnov Debut Album Strong Brew

Dave Hunt Travelling Blues With New Album 100 Horses

Dave Hunt Travelling Blues With New Album 100 Horses

Dave Hunt Travelling Blues With New Album 100 Horses

 

Following on from his second album Whiskey & Demons we are leaving the bar and stepping into the horse powered motor car and heading across the musical landscape. Dave on 100 Horses has mixed it up with the Delta and flows into Southern Rock as the harmonica pulls it together with a healthy helping of British Rn’B. As you would expect from Harmonica Dave the core of the album is the harmonica whose licks punctuate the lyrics adding an emotional refrain. The veritable one-man Band that is Mr Hunt, as he plays Drums, Bass and Guitar in addition to Harmonica and vocals.  Joining Dave on the 100 Horses journey is Andy Littlewood’s keys, guitar and backing vocals, The MEP Collective adding the horns with guest drummer Pete Nelson and vocalist Darren Yates.

The dozen tracks joining us on the road trip are all originals with plenty of zip and style the harmonica, guitar and vocals creating the contours, the light and shade of changing landscapes as you ride across the USA.  The driving power of escape and the horsepower under the bonnet fuels the blues with an energy that flows across the album. As we hit the Blues Highway, the tempo slows and the number reflects politician’s promises that set you on a path of playing music. The harp is sharp and full of poignant bends that are the hooks for the lyrics of the story exploring Grandpa times of 1922 but sadly, still relevant today.

As we take arrest from the road trip love the mainstay of many a tune explored throughout Love’s Just A Killer, the guitar is dark and raw as we join in with the Rock n Roll tempo.  Back with the car a potent mix of Moonshine Chevrolet, this is foot-stomping hill country blues with its compelling mix of simplicity and danger.  As you expect Dave’s harmonica steals the show with a punctuation that adds so much more than notes to the musical landscape.

As we step into Deadman’s Shoes the questions asked in Tell Me and a visit to Rehab; life explored to the cascading backdrop of blues that with a purity of shape and form that makes this album a fantastic listen. The power of the music grows the blues is developed in its many hues, as we hit the jaunty number I’m On Fire; a love song full of raw melodic power.  With Darren Yates joining Dave in a vocal duet on I Told You we have another twist in the Road we are travelling with 100 Horses leaving the finale. Completing the dozen tracks that all have blues of various tones and shades we are Shot Down. Opening with Harp, percussion and then the guitar the intro is sweet and mournful, and then a world-weary vocal of a man who has traveled far and has many tales to tell. Not a happy story shooting, jail and remorse. Does this leave you feeling down, why no this is an album full of life and vitality, every tale, life, love, betrayal and moonshine. Blues is about feel, story and a melodic beat this album has it all from the first to the last note. It is alive with the blues we want to hear.

Dave Hunt – 100 Horses – Mad Ears Productions

NINEpawprint half inchdoodle paws out of TEN ….

Track Listing

  1. Across The USA
  2. 100 Horses
  3. Blues Highway
  4. Doghouse
  5. Moonshine Chevrolets
  6. Deadman’s Shoes
  7. Tell Me
  8. Rehab
  9. I’m On Fire Baby
  10. I Told You (Feat Darren Yates)
  11. Shot Down

Dave Hunt Travelling Blues With New Album 100 Horses

One Of A Kind as Grady Champion Brings His Blues

One Of A Kind as Grady Champion Brings His Blues

One Of A Kind as Grady Champion Brings His Blues

 

 

Back, with a second album on Malaco Records, One Of A Kind as Grady Champion Brings His Blues. One Of A Kind is his 10th album since the debut, Going Gold a rap project back in 1990. Grammy winner, Grady continues to build on his solid reputation this is a Mississippi blues man with a bucket of soul in his singing, writing and blues-harp playing. Grady the youngest of 28 children, since joining the church choir when he was eight knew that music was his passion, having tried rap he came home to the blues his talent has a natural ease as he re-shapes the blues with elements of hip hop this is contemporary blues firmly planted on the banks of the Mississippi.

Opening with Bumps and Grid the instantly distinctive sound of Grady pours from the speakers this is blues that connects to your soul. The blues-harp sings the tempo and then his vocals that are deep full of warmth, Oh Yea he sings and we reply Oh Yes we want to listen to more.  Let’s go on down to a House Party, as we have an up tempo, feel good number that gets the feet tapping and you just want to party with friends and good music.

The tempo picks up a beat with sharp harp playing as we are on Life Support, the beat has a jaunty feel, then the mood shifts after the intro into more laid back swing feel as Grady begs a girl not to pull his Life Support as he has given his heart, the back into the jaunty driving beat of drums and harp. The title track is a slower moody last dance number as Grady croons, One Of Kind. This is a more serious facet of an artist that connects to you as he shares his feelings and thoughts.

The dozen tracks makes One Of  A Kind an album driven by deep grooves, delivered by a bluesman who picks up the mood with nifty licks and deep soul enhanced riffs. He is a Champion of Modern Blues, Stone In My Path  has a similar groove to Make That Monkey Jump from his 2011 album Dreamin’. It is catchy, without being shallow as it has fire in its belly and swoosh of stylish singing. Closing with GC Boogie we have the clever interaction of harp and keys picking up from each other as chords are explored and filled out.  Finishing with an instrumental makes a statement that his vocals are superb but above all it is his natural innate understanding of blues that makes Grady swing. The instrumentation is full and luscious as it fades leaving you with the option to press repeat.

One Of A Kind stands out from the crowd as Blues that will curl around your mood as Grady mixes up the tempo and adds luscious keys, guitar. This is blues that makes you sit up listen, smile and no hips can resist moving to the vibe.  There is no doubt the Grady is One Of A Kind, a modern bluesman, who understands the place of blues on today’s playlist. A soulful sound that definitely kicks your ears with spice and verve of outstanding instrumentation and blues that are fit for purpose in today’s fast moving world.

Grady Champion – One Of A Kind – Malaco Records

 

EIGHT pawprint half inchdoodle paws out of TEN ….

Track Listing

  1. Bump and Grind
  2. Heels and Hips
  3. House Party
  4. Life Support
  5. Leave Here Running
  6. Move Something
  7. One Of A Kind
  8. Stone In my Path
  9. Thin Line
  10. What A Women
  11. When I’m Gone
  12. GC Boogie

For Those Who Need The Blues There Is Giles Robson

For Those Who Need The Blues There Is Giles Robson

For Those Who Need The Blues There Is Giles Robson

A different side of Blues Harp maestro Giles Robson with new band who performed so superbly at 2016 Rock & Blues Weekend in Skegness. The result of the show an album that will be a must for lovers of blues driven by deep tones created by the harp playing of Giles. The album is resplendent with shades of every hue of blue building a maze of musical soundwaves that intrigue, delight and leave you wanting more. The mix of sounds are completed by Giles’ deep, warm vocals with the addition , blues guitar breaks as sweet as a summer blue sky from Andy Knight. The rhythm section, bassist Jeff Walker and drummer Darren Crome takes you deep down to the dark shades of blues and royal add a beat that winds around the guitar vocals and harp.

Opening with a Shady Heart and closing with A Walter Shade of Blue this is a blues driven experience looking forward,, contemporary and fresh tapping deep into the roots of delta blues. The lyrics have a narrative starting with Shady Heart we find out about mean tricks and evil. Then the glory of a harp lead break, sharp, sweet and a layer of mischief the drumming timing in with the blowing cheeks of Giles. The album takes you on a smoky blues journey through immaculate phrasing, timing and the excitement of the guitar licks and Giles voice with a swagger that reflects the harp playing. Where Your Been? He asked and if you haven’t caught up with Giles live or his previous album Crooked Heart of Mine, building on his blues with attitude. This is music that springs out of the box to excite and whirl around your head with excitement. Rock-blues harp invented and refined by Giles with straight-out-of-the-box Hohner Special Twenty and Marine Band harmonicas.

The album is full of beats and Andy Steps Out has a boogie/swing feel and Andy’s guitar grinds the momentum along. With electric vitality. This is rocking and rolling no grunge on the garage floor tonight. Andy’s superb guitar in the spotlight moment gets the dancing feet up and moving with rhythmic delight, on this clever instrumental. The masterful harps are soon back with the sustain notes that make you hold your breath in wonder, first the control and then the effortless ease in which Giles puts down the harp and starts to sing. The combination is intoxication and the interaction between harp and vocals are seamless. The slower tempo of Start A War is full of nuggets of golden music from the drumming to bass and then the top layers from harp and guitar. Rounding of the blues with Giles ‘vocals. This a track that winds around your blues heart and lingers with a caress of magical delight.

The album has shuffles from Chicago on the opening track and a powerful shuffle on the appropriately named G.R. Shuffle, the second instrumental on the album. This time harp and guitar harmonise and play around the shuffle set by the drums. Once again Giles and his band are re-defining the blues shaping and cajoling in to a contemporary form light and dark, sweet and sour all rocked up with his branding iron of musical fire. Closing with the third instrumental the best has been kept ‘til last! With a tribute to Little Walter. The emotional journey is huge as the harp draws up yearning, sadness and joy. This is blues that hurts with its simplicity, complexity and sheer beauty. Wow! Giles this is amazing more that a tribute it is the love of a fellow great harp player A Walter Shade of Blue is spectacular..

The band connects with the blues, each other and the listener with authenticity, freshness and the curve balls to keep you interested. A band that has a basketful of creativity that has not been dictated and re-formed into a pre-conceived shape. The band as a fluidity and charm, openness of music direction. The quality is stunning, the virtuoso display of harp playing is exciting and this is a solo album that will be repeated often to soak up the gritty, darkly shadowed immensity of the blues from Giles Robson. The album cements Giles as one of the great Harmonica players and definitely the best in the twenty-first century. This album is the perfect antidote For Those Who Need The Blues.

Bluesdoodles gives this CD TEN pawprint half inchdoodle paws out of TEN ….

For Those Who Need The Blues – Giles Robson – Blue Midnight Records

Track Listing

    1. Shady Heart
    2. Sarah Lee
    3. Where You Been?
    4. Andy Steps Out
    5. Bound For The Border
    6. Start A War
    7. G.R. Shuffle
    8. Summa That Good Stuff
    9. A Walter Shade Of Blue