Adam Gussow and Charlie Hilbert.LIVE IN KLINGENTHAL.zip
The dynamic blues duo of Adam Gussow (harmonica) and Charlie Hilbert (guitar), captured in concert at the Mundharmonika-live Festival in Klingenthal, Germany in 2008. The ten tracks include classics by Big Bill Broonzy and Muddy Waters as well as more contemporary jazz and funk stylings by Herbie Hancock and The Meters.
Also included is a long (14+ minute) bonus track featuring the legendary New York harmonica master Nat Riddles going head to head with Gussow in 1990 at a Richmond, VA jam session on Big Walter Horton's "Have a Good Time."
11 mp3s saved at a high bit rate (150+ kb/s) and professionally mastered for superior stage presence. A 100+ MB download. Here are partial liner notes and a complete list of songs and harp keys:
.....What you've got here is the fruit not just of that trip, but of my ten-year partnership with Charlie. He is a major talent. Although this album showcases my harp, it also makes clear why I wanted him along for the ride. He has no trouble playing the steady-rolling sideman, but he's equally adept at moving forward into the spotlights and throwing down. He's a natural-born showman, happy to razzle-dazzle. (At the end of "Got My Mojo Working," he's playing with his teeth.). Although much of our set list is familiar and we're deeply rooted in the tradition, neither of us is interested in recreating classic blues as a series of museum pieces. We're interested in figuring out how much rangy personality and spitfire we can wring from songs you think you know. I'd like to believe that this brings us within leaping-distance of the spirit that animated Muddy Waters and Little Walter when the Chicago blues were fresh, raw, and still figuring out what they were supposed to be. Playing with Charlie is exhilarating; it's always a high-wire act. The rough edges are part of our sound.
"Watermelon Man," which opens the album, is a tune I recorded many years ago with Sterling Magee. I learned it from the original Herbie Hancock recording, using overblows to get the needed notes in the middle octave. It remains one of my favorites. A Latin-flavored variation on the blues, it reminds me of hot summer days I spent as a Harlem street musician and the guy who sold us tall cool Styrofoam cups of lemonade from a hand-drawn wagon.
"She Moves Me" is a familiar Muddy Waters slow blues groove that Charlie and I transform into something squalling and contrapuntal. Check out the harp line in 3:02-3:06. That's a first-position run on the IV chord, with overblows. Little Walter did not play it this way in 1951.
"Key to the Highway" features unamplified harp, and it benefits from the acoustics of the concert hall where half of this album's tracks were recorded. Talk about decay rate! I'm alternating cross and first position here, switching off harps.
"Cissy Strut" by The Meters is a song that Charlie and I both learned back in New York, where it was common stock at jam sessions. We'd never tried it as a duo until this trip. Rather than play it safe, we go out of our way to take risks: break-dancing on the edge of the abyss. My harp had a balky 2 draw, one that veered slightly sharp every time I nailed it. Too damn bad.
On "Help Me" we're joined by the rhythm section of the Rattlesnake Blues Band, a German ensemble led by Arnd "Captain Harp" Hoffman. I signify on Sonny Boy's famous solo; Charlie showcases his guitar chops near the end.
The version of "Easy" we perform here is one I learned many years ago from a recording I'd made of Charlie backing up my mentor, Nat Riddles, out on the street. Nat echoed Big Walter's original; I honor Nat not just by echoing him, but by working my own variations. I'm proud of this track. If anybody ever assembles a "best of Gussow" download after I'm dead and gone, I hope they include it.
"Wrong Doing Woman" is a very slow blues rippling with concert-hall atmospherics. Charlie sings it with beautiful finesse.
We included a live version of "Cold Shot" on our last album; here we've dropped the key from A to E and we're doing it as a duo, minus the band. I like the idea of reclaiming Stevie Ray Vaughan for the harp/guitar songbook.
"You Don't Have to Go" is one of those standards that Charlie and I seem to have been born knowing how to play. I love the descending riff that James Cotton tosses after every vocal line, so Ive used it here.
"Got My Mojo Working" is the usual set closer. We bang it out like a two-man band. Check out Charlie's sick guitar shredding near the end.
Index to tracks: length harp key
1. Watermelon Man 6:46 B-flat
2. She Moves Me 4:25 B-flat
3. Key to the Highway 4:09 D, A
4. Cissy Strut 5:24 C
5. Help Me 6:13 C
6. Easy 6:24 A
7. Wrong Doing Woman 4:04 D-flat
8. Cold Shot 4:46 A
9. You Dont Have to Go 5:31 B
10. Got My Mojo Working 4:40 A
Bonus Track: Have a Good Time 14:30 C
Another Modern Blues Harmonica production: https://www.tradebit.com
Thanks to Dan Utter at 9450 Digital for another superior mastering job!