So what do you get when you mix a Swiss blues harp player with some of the most distinguished Chicago blues players? You get a damn good blues album from Swississippi Chris Harper Four Aces and a Harp. The Chicago blues men include Willie “Big Eyes” Smith and John Primer who played in both Muddy Waters’ and Howlin’ Wolf’s bands and Bob Stroger who was Otis Rush’s bassist. Vocals are provided by some more modern bluesmen like Jimmy Burns of the Jimmy Burns Band, Tail Dragger and Kenny “Beady Eyes” Smith (Willie “Big Eyes” Smith’s son), along with Smith and Primer. Harper provides some vocals particularly on his own songs.
The album is composed of eighteen tracks of which fifteen are covers from the greats including Muddy Water’s classic “Long Distance Call.” and Sonny Boy Williamson’s “Eyesight To The Blind”. Two tracks are Harper originals and there’s one classic jazz standard Duke Ellington’s “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore” Throughout the album Harper’s fine harp playing stands out. Especially on tracks like “I Smell Trouble” where his playing perfectly connects with Jimmy Burns’ vocals. There’s strong electric guitar on some tracks and some have fine acoustic picking on others. Sleepy John Estes’ “Worried Life Blues,” which has been performed by bluesmen like B.B. King, Eric Clapton and Kenny Wayne Shepherd, is slowed down to create that “worried:” feel Harper’s harmonica shines on this track!. I really enjoyed the only non-blues track on the album the instrumental version of Duke Ellington’s “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore” with some great harp work mixed in with some fine piano playing!
Overall this is a great blues album with some fine harp playing by Harper, who has been playing harp since he was twelve! You can check out the album at here at Amazon!
Here’s Chris playing with the Sharade Band performing “Deep Blue Sky”