Mark Hummel,
Ain't Easy No More
(Electro-Fi, 2006)

It ain't easy no more being a blues harp player. Mark Hummel admits on his CD sleeve that both the blues world and the world in general are in rough shape.

Not that it stops him. Hummel is known for his "harmonica blowouts." Every major living blues harpist has appeared in these touring shows with Hummel.

Ain't Easy No More also continues the harmonica tradition.There is nothing new here, but Hummel mixes styles enough to keep your interest. There are many swing and jump blues numbers. An example is the first, Ray Charles' "Get on the Right Track," that adds trombone and sax to Hummel's Blues Survivors band. The horns are also on the title track, a New Orleans-style song about the recent flood.

He recreates the power of Muddy Waters and the "wah-wah" of Sonny Boy Williamson II on "She's Got It" and "Stop Now Baby" respectively. And, of course, there are harp workouts including "Harpoventilating" and "Bird Brain."

Hummel, like all great harpists, concentrates more on tone than speed. His solos are tuneful and not screechy, bringing out a full, rounded sound to the instrument.

If you are looking for some solid blues harmonica playing, it ain't hard to decide on this CD.

by Dave Howell
7 April 2007

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