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World Music CD Reviews New Age & Avant Garde

INSPIRATION

By PAUL-ÉMILE COMEAU
Published April 19, 2006

22 Great Harmonica Performances
Sunnyside Communications

This tribute to the harmonica starts out strong with Toots Thielemans’ beautiful treatment of Satie’s “Gymnopedie No. 1,” followed by a starkly different track, namely Sonny Terry’s classic “Lost John.” Those two set the pattern for both the quality and variety of the rest of the album. Even a surprising inclusion such as Stevie Wonder’s “Alfie” (probably considered filler on the original 1968 album), sounds inventive in retrospect. Since the compiler is from Europe, close to half the artists are also, virtually unknown in North America—Belgium’s Thierry Crommen appears alongside Olivier Ker Ourio from Reunion Island. Although the notes are interesting, the artist’s homeland isn’t always listed. Such is the case with Michel Herblin and Greg Szlapczynski, while Eric Chafer is only listed as being from the Pyrenees. Needless to say, some blues and country music legends are included, but only one harmonica group is featured: namely the influential Borrah Minevitch and the Harmonica Rascals. The only rock band is Magic Dick with the J. Geils Band. Further volumes will be welcome.