Jon Gindick,
When We Die, We All Come Back as Music
(Old Chimney Records, 2016)

Jon Gindick is best known for his blues harmonica jam camps, which are held several times per year in Clarksdale, Mississippi, and Ventura, California. As a guitarist and harp player, he has played all the festivals and clubs and now, with the production help of Ralph Carter, has made this album.

So the question is, can the teacher practice what he teaches? The answer is a qualified yes. As a harmonica player, he has not just studied but internalized his Sonny Boy Williamson and Little Walter, so that he can add his own thing to their ideas. His playing is deep in the tradition but original, always filled with surprising licks and turns. He has more than a touch of jazz in his style, and producer Carter does a fine job of surrounding him with players and band arrangements that take advantage of the jazz twinge.

Still, this is a blues album: "Ghost Dance" blends Little Walter and Bo Diddley and is indicative of both the strengths and weaknesses found in this album. Although the playing is first rate, the songs are mostly derivative, overly familiar. The best song idea found in "When We Die, We All Come Back as Music" is weakened by repetitive lyrics, with too much reliance on the title lines.

If you want to hear fine harp playing, this is your album. If you are not that sharply focused on a single instrument, though, the writing and Gindick's limited range as a singer might keep you from enjoying this one as much as you'd want to.

music review by
Michael Scott Cain

4 February 2017

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