Monday, 21 July 2008

CD Review - JT Ross

South Side Records

By M.D. Spenser

If you’re looking for an album of hard-driving guitar-and-harmonica Chicago Blues, this is not a bad one to pick up.

JT Ross was born in Chicago; his father, Michael Trossman, painted portraits of Blues and rock stars, including for Rolling Stone magazine. JT claims to have got his first harmonica as a baby, to have met Howlin’ Wolf and Hound Dog Taylor as a kid, and to have learned the harpist’s art from such luminaries as James Cotton and Junior Wells.

He blows a distorted, hands-cupped-around-the-mike style of harmonica, like Little Walter – with a bit of jazzy California flavour added, a la Rod Piazza or William Clarke.

No credits on the promo-tional CD, but it appears to be a mix of covers and originals. It’s an ordinary batch of songs, with pedestrian lyrics: “What is going on/In the world today?/Kids are shooting each other/People murdered day by day.” They’re generic 12-bar fare – the kind where someone could just shout, “Key of E!” and everyone would join right in.

Ross is an ordinary singer, too – certainly not the first Bluesman to play well but fall short of Caruso in the vocal department.

But none of that matters much, because he is a good harpist, and this is a good band. The lead guitarist is excellent, and some tracks are augmented by fine boogie-woogie piano. When they’re all wailing at full blast, makes you want to turn it up.

There’s not much original in this album. But it cooks.

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