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Electro-Fi (ELECTRO3439)

Blues Stop Knockin’, I’m Gonna Ruin You, Hustle Is On, What Is That She Got, Bobby’s Blues, Hard Time Getting Started, Sittin’ At The Bar, Give Me Time To Explain, You Got Me, Tonight With A Fool, Lovey Dovey, Crazy Legs, Drivin’ Me Mad, Gee I Wish

Mark Hummel is widely known in blues circles for his Blues Harmonica blow-outs, periodically organising concerts and recordings since 1991, showcasing the best practitioners around - variously including James Cotton, Carey Bell, Charlie Musselwhite, Kim Wilson, James Harman and many, many more. As a monstrously talented harmonica player himself, obviously he gets to feature on these blow outs but thankfully he also maintains his own recording career. And just landed is this, his 6th album for Electro-Fi.

Recorded in Chicago and California in the summer of 2013, with pretty much two distinct all-star bands, you won't be surprised to find that we have here another thrilling master-class of blues harmonica virtuosity. What also strikes home almost immediately is that Hummel is also a dab hand at coaxing out stirring performances from other musicians he works with, not just harmonica players. Across 14 great sounding tracks on this CD, everyone involved equips themselves superbly, most notably the hot trio of guest guitarists - Little Charlie Baty, Kid Andersen and Anson Funderburgh. So whether its modern blues harmonica or electric blues guitar that 'floats your boat', take it from me you are on to a winner here (and if, like me, you like both you can prepare yourself for an absolute treat).

Proceedings get off to a right rollicking start on the lively opener, Blues Stop Knockin' which steams in  with a super harmonica riff, features a stinging guitar break and has some of Hummel's very best vocals on the album. Elsewhere, highlights are in plentiful supply, from the tasty title track (a cover of the T-Bone Walker number), a Bobby Bland-like soul blues Bobby's Blues (given the title, maybe a tribute?) and Sittin' At The Bar, where the guitar sounds like it was lifted straight from a Junior Parker recording for Sun in the 1950s. On the instrumental Crazy Legs, Hummel's harp summons up the spirit and style of Little Walter before briefly letting Charlie Baty loose on another thrilling guitar break.

Oh, darn it, I could tell you about all the tracks as each and every one of them is top notch. But taken together as an album, this CD really is something else again. Highly recommended. 

Review Date: April 2014

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