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World Music CD Reviews Jazz

Harmonious Wail

By Michael Stone
Published September 16, 2008

Resist Temptation
Range Records

The French café-gypsy jazz sound has gained traction with the emergence of artists like Rupa And The April Fishes, the Hot Club Of San Francisco, Pearl Django, and Pink Martini. Since 1993, Madison, Wisconsin’s Harmonious Wail (vocals, mandolin, guitar, upright bass, percussion) has explored vintage jazz, particularly the insouciant Django Reinhardt-Stephane Grappelli blend with hot acoustic guitar and violin. Resist Temptation, the quartet’s sixth release, tackles the American popular sound with original material and classics like Spencer William’s 1917 “Tishomingo Blues.” There’s also some popping-hot, double-roasted rock chestnuts: Steely Dan’s “Home At Last,” The Band’s “Unfaithful Servant,” The Velvet Underground’s “Who Loves The Sun,” and Tom Waits’ “You Can Never Hold Back Spring.” The sassy and sultry singer Maggie Delaney-Potthoff leads the way, but guests Howard Levy (harmonica, piano), David Bromberg (acoustic guitar) and additional session stalwarts help the group write a new page in the folk-jazz idiom.