If you like your blues straight with no chaser, check out the new Asian Improv Records release Wabi Down Home Blues Project Band featuring Seiji Yuguchi on harmonica and vocals, The Best Things in Life are Still Made by Hand.
What makes this CD so unique is not that this Asian import plays the blues but rather that he does it so well. Born in Osaka, Japan in 1966, Seiji was inspired to play blues when he picked up a Howling Wolf record at age 20. In 1989 he packed up and moved to Chicago to become a skilled harmonica player. This seems to pay off. After playing many clubs and festivals in both America and Europe and performing with many Chicago Blues legends, Seiji was the first Japanese harmonica player who is endorsed by Hohner USA Inc.
The opening track instantly grabs you with a suitable harmonica intro on the standard OH BABY written by Willie Dixon and Walter Jacobs. With masterful harp playing the CD rolls on to the next track, a Suiji original composition instrumental called BOOGIE 2000. He then slows it down with the classic THAT'S ALRIGHT. The remaining 50:12 minutes is chock-full of Chicago style blues that is a gratifying and fun hearken.
Yuguchi's harp playing is flawless and full of verve. In tradition with Chicago harp legends Junior Wells and Little Walter, Suiji keeps the blues harmonica alive and kicking with style and respect. With a solid rhythm section backing him, including legendary Chicago DJ Steve Cushion on percussion, All Things in Life Are Still Made by Hand, is a worthy addition to any harmonica driven blues fans collection.
To sample and purchase this somewhat obscure CD, go to: www.jmstore.com.
This review is copyright © 2001 by Tony Engelhart, and Blues On Stage at: www.mnblues.com, 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.