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Oscar Klein and Katie Kern: Pick-A-Blues

C. Michael Bailey By

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When the Krauts get the blues...

 

Ah vin te Saynts go machin' in, ah vin te Saynts go machin' in.... I qued up Jimmy Reed's "Going to New York and was treated to some tasty rural harmonica and guitar blues. Everything was going okay. The female singer was suitably soulful until she hit the dudyas..."...I'm going to New York, even if I hafta vaulk ..." I was ready to dismiss is disc as a poor attempt for the Germans to have the blues. But Katie Kern's guitar playing made me continue to listen. Her guitar style has the economy of soul of Sam "Lightnin'" Hopkins or B.B. King with the precision of Mercedes Benz. Her vocals are effective also, all fun aside. And this disc is not even her's, it is lead by the multi-instrumentalist Oscar Klein, who, on harmonica is a Saxon Sonny Terry.

The music on this disc could just as easily be the playing program of Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown. Mixed up here are jazz and blues standards and jazz-blues fusions. There are even country songs ("Free My Mind"). Several songs sport trumpet/guitar of clarinet/guitar unisons. "Moods" is a jazz-blues with Kern playing a precisely dirty guitar in the guise of Buddy Guy. Klein's muted horn adds a refined dimension to this otherwise gutbucket offering. "Long Lost Love" is a cotton fields blues ballad. "Honky Tonk Train Blues" features the bouncing stride of pianist Chris Nemet. "Pick that Thing" has Kern playing some dusty country twang. The coupling of "C-Jam Blues" and "Caravan" make this disc the most Gatemouthesque.

I was totally ready to dismiss this disc. What the airways don't need is one more blues-wanna-be. However, the musicianship is so fine and full of intelligent brevity that this disc really turns out to be quite a treat.

Track Listing: Going To New York; Moods; Long Lost Love; Honky Tonk Train Blues; Free My Mind; Blues For Django And Mezz; Pick That Thing; Cotton Fields Boogie; When The Saints; Boxer Boogie; Goin' To Chicago; C-Jam Blues; Caravan; Blue Dreams. (Total Playing Time: 65:30).

Personnel: Oscar Klein: Trumpet, Clarinet, Harmonica, Guitar; Katie Kern: Guitar, Vocals; Chris Nemet: Piano; Jan Jankeje: Bass; Heini Albert Drums.

Title: Pick-A-Blues | Year Released: 2002 | Record Label: Jazzpoint Records

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