Don "Sugar Cane" Harris
Sugar Cane's Got the Blues

[MPS/Promising Music, www.promising-music.com]

Violinist Don "Sugar Cane" Harris was a vivid individual. His raunchy and vibrant playing had a sort of force in it that was only matched [and exceeded] by his Polish counterpart, Zbigniew Seifert. Recorded live at Berlin's Jazz Days in 1971, "Sugar Cane's Got the Blues" is a rare sort of a document in the sense that it captures a once-in-a-lifetime line-up of folks. Accompanying Harris on violin and vocals are guitarists Volker Kriegel and Terje Rypdal, keyboardist Wolfgang Dauner, bassist Neville Whitehead and percussionist Robert Wyatt. It's not often that you get to hear Wyatt playing a guest role on other people's records, so to have him on-board here is a real treat. Album is made up of four long jam sessions. "Liz Pineapple Wonderful" is full of trajectory of screaming electric violin from the master. Harris is unforgiving as his solos are maddening from beginning to end. Dauner's keyboards add a layer of plump grooves, while Wyatt is a madman on the drums. "Where's My Sunshine" features some scorching guitar wah-wahs from Kriegel, all the while Whitehead's electric bass gives off a nice rhythmic foundation. Winner to my ears is the band's take of Horace Silver's "Song for my Father". Featuring a young and eager Terje Rypdal on guitar, the band churns out something that is quite unique and touching at the same time. Drenched in blues, jazz and rock, this is a scorcher of an album and one of the best offerings in the catalogue of the late, great violin legend.

- Tom Sekowski


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