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