Harry Manx and fellow guitarist Kevin Breit (probably best known for his work with Cassandra Wilson and Norah Jones) first got together at the Summerfolk festival in 2001. When Manx played with Breit's trio, Folk Alarm, they did not bother with trivia like rehearsals, or discussions about which key to play in. They just jumped right in and started swimming. Fast forward a few months and when the opportunity to record together arose, they both jumped at it, and "Jubilee" was born.
"Jubilee" makes a good start with Manx taking the lead on Sleepy John Estes' "Diving Duck Blues." For most of the album the split between Manx and Breit is an acoustic/electric one: Manx plays acoustic guitars (and mohan veena), while Breit plays electric guitars and other exotic instruments (cavaquinho, mandocello, and banjolin and so on). The opening track shows that this balance works well.
Breit wrote most of the tunes, starting with the instrumental waltz, "When Abbott Met Costello," which provides a brief interlude before the duo really hit the heights on the excellent "Good Time Charlie's Got The Blues." The combination of the laid back acoustic and electric slide guitars provides the perfect backdrop for Manx's laconic vocals which hint at Van Morrison. They then ratchet things up to a rattling train tempo for the instrumental medley "No Particular Place To Be/Itchy Knees and Elbows."
Manx's first composition ("Funny Business") does not arrive until track seven. It has the Manx trademark style, but the sound is bigger and rounder thanks to Breit's bass and electric slide. That the electric instruments never swamp the acoustic instruments must be largely attributed to producer David Travers-Smith. The balance between mohan veena and resonator on "Raga Gujari-Jodi" is also pretty near perfect.
The mohan veena also features on the only joint composition, "Unmoved By Love," before the dynamic duo tackle the Doobie Brothers "Taking It To The Streets." Naturally they do it in their own inimitable way as an instrumental using just wooden and steel bodied guitars. It takes a while to spot the tune, but the arrangement works brilliantly, and it sounds like they had a ball recording it. Things are (unsurprisingly) more subdued for
"Weary and You Run," where Manx handles the uncredited vocals.
After a (5-string baritone) banjo-led romp through "Tell Me About The Blues Highway Grampa," and an interesting version of "Voodoo Child (Slight Return)," complete with banjo, Breit gets to have the final say. He plays solo on "Lastly Tender," a nicely relaxed tune that tips a nod towards Stevie Wonder's "My Cherie Amour."
"Jubilee" is another fine album from Harry Manx and pairing him with Kevin
Breit was an inspired touch: the end result is that there is an extra musical dimension to the usual Manx sound. This was probably helped by the bewildering array of instruments they took into the studio. Just about everything that Northern Blues have released has been critically acclaimed; "Jubilee" is not about to break that Midas touch.
Your purchase through this Amazon.com link helps to support this website.
Simply click on the cover at left or the Amazon buy button (if there is one) to order this CD now!
"This review is copyright © 2003 by Gordon Baxter, and Blues On Stage at: www.mnblues.com, all rights reserved. Copy, duplication or download prohibited without permission."
Copyright reuse notice: If you would like to reprint or use this review please include the above copyright notice, contained within the quotation marks, PLUS this statement: "Used with permission." Then send an email to Ray at: email@example.com indicating how you are using the review or the website page address it will be appearing on. Thanks!
You can help support this blues website by making a contribution (click on the banner below for details).
Or mail a donation to: Ray Stiles % Blues On Stage, PO Box 582983, Mpls, MN 55458. Thanks!
Web Design SPECIAL, get your own website for just $50.
Web Hosting & Design:
Web Hosting & Design.
Most affordable web hosting and design services available.
Find out how you can host your current site at Blues On Stage, or how I can help you design your own website!
If you would like your CD reviewed, please send TWO (2) copies, along with promotional material to:
Blues On Stage
PO Box 582983
Minneapolis, MN 55458-2983
E-mail Ray Stiles @ firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.