Mark Hummel review…September 10, 2018….

MARK HUMMEL

HARPBREAKER

ELECTRO-FI RECORDS  3456

HARPOVENTILATIN (LIVE)–THE CREEPER RETURNS–ROTTEN KID (LIVE)–BILLY’S BOOGALOO–WALKIN’ WITH MR. LEE–CRISTO REDENTOR–CRAZY LEGS–SENOR BLUES–READY, STEADY, ROLL–GLIDE ON–CHUCKALUCK–EVANS SHUFFLE–SEE SEE RIDER

Mark Hummel has been playing the harp since age fifteen.  His early idols were all the greats–both Walters, Cotton, Charlie Musselwhite, Lee Oskar and a host of others.  It has always been his desire to record an all-instrumental harp album, and that time has finally arrived.  “Harpbreaker,” for Electro-Fi Records, features thirteen hand-picked tunes, some new songs, and some unreleased cuts, both live and in-studio.  Joining him are his long-time bandmates, R.W, Grigsby on bass, and Wes Starr on drums, with special guest guitarists Anson Funderburgh, Little Charlie Baty, Rusty Zinn, Billy Flynn, and Kid Andersen.  It was recorded at Kid’s Greaseland Studios in San Jose, and Joyride Studios in Chicago.  It is a harp-lover’s dream for lovers of the instrument.

Mark’s live blowouts are the stuff of legend, and several are available on CD.  This set carries on that tradition with the man himself ventilatin’ into forays of jazz, jump, swing, and even mournful, minor-key blues.

That swing’s the thing on the leadoff live “Harpoventilatin,” with Charles Wheal on guitar, as he also is on the staccato strut of “The Creeper Returns.”  Mel Brown is on guitar on a cool cover of Buddy Rich’s “Rotten Kid,” one of the set’s several looks at the jazzier side of the blues.  Add to that jazzy side “Ready, Steady, Roll,” with a horn section blowing in lockstep with Mark’s harp, and Rusty Zinn on guitar.  “Chuckaluck,” also with Rusty on guitar and Chris Burns on keys, rounds out the jazz cuts.

We had two favorites, too.  Rusty gives that cool “Muddy yell” toward the end of the country-blues of “Evans Shuffle,” accounting for the set’s only “vocal.”  Mark also offers up a fine tribute to Charlie Musselwhite by dedicating this version of “Cristo Redentor (Christ The Redeemer)” to not only Charlie but to Mark’s mom.  It was her who supported Mark in his developmental years to become the player he is today.

Without saying a word, Mark Hummel’s harp speaks volumes, for fans of contemporary, harp-fueled blues.  He swings and stomps, rips and romps thru excellent instrumentals as only a true “Harpbreaker” can!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

 

 

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