Harmonica players throughout the world pay tribute to Big Walter Horton as inspiration or mentor. There are also a good many harpers throughout the world not qualified to carry Horton's Briefcase. The six harmonica players assembled for this Swedish tribute are highly qualified and impressive players. Given that the majority of the liners are written in Swedish, I can impart little information on the players. The scant English-language text has to do with Horton rather than those who have come to pay tribute.
Zven Zetterberg's versions of "Little Boy Blue," "Southern Women" and "Hard Hearted Women," comprising the opening barrage here, are devoid of flash or showboating. His is a quiet and respectful tribute that is heavy on nuance.
Jan Sjostrom leads off his trio of tunes with a beautiful duet with Leven on "Louise." Then kicks into a rousing "I'm In The Mood," again with great guitar work from Leven and a group that sounds as schooled in West Coast swing as 50s Chicago. His version of "Easy" is also a keeper.
Thomas Grahn offers an electric duet on "Everybody's Fishin'," with guitarist Claes Parmland, then brings in the full group for a rockin' "If It Ain't Me." The strangest tune that Horton ever recorded was "La Guguracha." This Swedish version of the American bluesman's version of the Mexican tune is equally strange, but give Grahn credit for bringing muscle and chops to spare to the number.
Greger Andersson offers a version of "Have A Good Time" on which he sings and plays wonderfully. It's safe to assume that some of the vocalizing that the harmonica players bring to the studio represents a very limited knowledge of English, but there's nary an accent from the any of the players. On "Card Game," a deep blues that stands as one of the highlights of the collection, Andersson's vocals are superb, and for his closing "Cotton Patch Hot Foot," his stellar harp playing is accented by very quirky sounding Leven guitar.
Stefan Dafgard brings his perspective to Horton with versions of "West Winds Are Blowing," an excellent "Fumblin' Around" and a rousing "We All Got To Go, Sometime."
The set closes with three from harmonica player Sture Elldin, who offers the Roosevelt Sykes classic "Honey Dripper," Horton's "Sneakin' And Hidin'" and "Back Home To Mama."
The players all bring a different take on the Chicago maestro. All are impressive, though Andersson, Zetterberg and Sjostrom rise to the top. This one may be next to impossible to track down, but it's also one of those rare imports that is worth beating a bunch of bushes for.
CeePeeVee Records. 28. S-118 46 Stockholm, Sweden
This review is copyright © 2001 by Mark E. Gallo, and Blues On Stage, all rights reserved. Copy, duplication or download prohibited without written permission. For permission to use this review please send an E-mail to Ray Stiles.