Bradley N. Litwin is a blues and ragtime guitarist reminiscent of Roy Bookbinder though with an even broader palette. On the sly opener of Blind Blake's great "Mr. Diddy Wa Diddy," his guitar work is nothing less than stunning, which can be said of the whole of this extraordinary package. What's more impressive, though, is the stylistic diversity here. Not only does he play brilliant guitar, he's a fine vocalist and an obvious fan of traditional American music. "You Rascal You" is played in a Cab Calloway-style with a sextet of real and vocalized instruments and is based on a 1934 Fletcher Henderson arrangement. The early 1920s "Whoa, Tillie Take Your Time" has a Bessie Smith/Sippie Wallace feel and features Litwin on vocals with era-appropriate piano accompaniment from Eric Sahlen. "Please Consider Me," a well-known Nat Cole vehicle, is sung in a sweet croon with Larry McKenna's pensive tenor sax and Litwin's guitar. His own jaw-dropping guitar instrumental "St. Louis Got Tickled" is dedicated to Bookbinder and the late Dave Van Ronk and is a fine bit of picking that reminds of Gary Davis and John Hurt.
The classic "One Meatball," another of those amazing period pieces that just sends me, features jazz violin with tuba, trumpet, sax and drum accompaniment. Again Litwin's vocals call Cab Calloway to mind, if only for the expressiveness and elasticity he employs. His take on Blind Blake's "Too Tight" is superb. The sweet "What Are You Doing New Years" was inspired by Ella Fitzgeral's 1960 version, and his original "Wor Shu Up" sounds like it's out of the Blake book. That he follows "Love In Vain" with "I Can't Give You Anything But Love" speaks volumes of his adeptness with a tune. Never mind the neat pigeonhole said tune may occupy, his attitude seems to be that a fine tune is a fine tune. "Baby Please Come Home" has a Jimmy Rushing feel to it and the closing "You Always Hurt the One You Love," played solo has vocals that remind me, strangely enough, of the Ink Spots, with Litwin's ever delightful guitar caressing the sung line. One of my favorite recordings of 2002, this is a pure delight.
Find it at www.jujubee.com/litwin.htm
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