Here's a danceable, soulful blast of harmonica-driven blues from Arthur Williams and the Bluesmasters. Harpin' On It offers up a succession of jumpin', jukin' tunes that showcase the leader's funky harmonica and all-out vocals. Factor in Bob Lohr's fast-pumping piano, and the boogie really burns on this one.
Born in Mississippi, 61-year-old Arthur Wilson was tutored by Little Walter and played with Chicago blues legends Elmore James and Muddy Waters. Williams returned to the Delta in the late '50s and teamed with Frank Frost and Sam Carr. These days Williams calls St. Louis home, and he's assembled an excellent combo that includes St. Louis drummer/vocalist James "Boo Boo" Davis. Davis contributes four tunes to this album, including the fast-cookers "Ain't Goin' Back To East St. Louis" and "Goin' To Memphis."
Harpin' On It's 11 tracks also feature tunes by Jimmy Reed ("Can't Stand To See You Go"), Little Walter ("Mean Old World"), and Williams himself (the instrumental "Harpin' On It").
Williams blows rapid single-note lines and wicked bends on harp. He also sings with heartfelt intensity. His band out-and-out cooks, particularly ace piano man Bob Lohr. Call this a fine collection of Chicago-style blues infused with the spirit of St. Louis.
Why do I love jazz? Well, depending on what you mean by jazz, I can send an answer in any number of directions. Briefly, I was exposed to this crazy music as a little boy, my dad good friends with the local music store, where he bought sheet music to play from his baby grand
Why do I love jazz? Well, depending on what you mean by jazz, I can send an answer in any number of directions. Briefly, I was exposed to this crazy music as a little boy, my dad good friends with the local music store, where he bought sheet music to play from his baby grand. Their massive record collection, my parents taking me to concerts and clubs (only one of five kids to do so), the Magnavox furniture stereo/radio ... it all added up. It was complex, emotional music. And it had rhythm! I drummed and followed the music through the '60s even as I enjoyed the new musics of my generation.
Along with side-trips to other musicians and music, it's been one hell of a pony ride ever since.