Thursday, November 4, 2010

"Giant" - James Cotton (Alligator Records)

By Eric Steiner

James "Mr. Superharp" Cotton is celebrating his 75th birthday this year, but his latest CD, Giant, belies the fact that he's been performing since age nine under the tutelage of Rice Miller (Sonny Boy Williamson).

Giant features a dozen cuts, and Slam Allen and Tom Holland share guitar duties, with Noel Neal and Kenny Neal, Jr., providing the foundation on bass and drums. James doesn't sing on this CD, leaving the vocals to his talented band. When he picks up the harp, though, get ready for a great ride.

The uptempo "With the Quickness" is a real scorcher - and it's one of the three new and original songs of the dozen that's on this CD. Standards like "Sad, Sad Day," "How Blues Can You Get" and "Buried Alive in the Blues" get the expert Superharp treatment, and whenever I return to this CD, I play the songs written by Muddy Waters first. "Find Yourself Another Fool" and "Going Down Main Street" are standout cuts for me for the way James' tight ensemble wraps itself around his harp attack.

Giant is dedicated to James Cotton's Alligator label mate Koko Taylor. If any song rises to the top for me, it's "Blues for Koko." "Blues for Koko" offers classic, post-war Chicago blues lines that capture James' obvious affection and respect for the Queen of the Blues.

Next Spring, James will be at Skagit Valley Community College in Mount Vernon, WA on March 11, 2010 - make your plans now to experience a true giant of the blues!

Download the the song "Compression" by James Cotton for free here on Amazon.

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