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I started a quest to find terrific blues music and incredible musicianship when I was just a little kid. I also have a tremendous appreciation of fine musical instruments and equipment. One of my greatest joys all of my life was sharing my finds with my friends. I'm now publishing my journey. I hope that you come along!

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Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Ilya Portnov - Strong Brew - New release review

I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release, Strong Brew, from Ilya Portnov and it's quite good. Opening with shuffle track, Sunny Afternoon Blues, Ilya Portnov leads on melody on harmonica, joined by Kid Anderson on bass, Chris Burns on keys, Ben Andrews on violin and June Core on drums. Cool key work and sinuous violin work give this track an earthy feel. Surfin' the Baltic Sea is a real cool surf track with a definite twist. Dynamic harp work and a great melody, spanked along by snappy drums and a smoky organ solo and a super guitar add by Andersen makes this a real killer. Dance of a Lonely Doll is a particularly cool track featuring Portnov on chromatic harp and it's old world charm makes it one of my favorites on the release. Andersen's bass work and classic handling of piano riffs really emphasize the beauty of the track. Very nice. Rev. Gary Davis' Cincinnati Flow Rag is a cool and loosely flowing acoustic track with slappy drum work giving it real charm. Bouncy harp work by Portnov works really nicely with the rhythm and Rob Vye adds nice guitar work. Another really strong track, In A Town Garden, transports you to eastern Europe and a quieter time. Portnov masterfully plays his harp and Core's drums work is excellent. Burns works in a really nice organ solo and Andersen really captures the spirit on a nicely stylistic solo of his own. Terrific. Chicago style blues, Behind The Wall really gets a groove going with Robby Yamilov on bass, and Portnov really digs in showing a solid feel for the blues. Very nice. Title track, Strong Brew, has blues roots but with a Euro/jazz undertone. Harmony by Portnov is complex and expressive, giving way to the round tones of Burns on organ and the fluid jazz runs of Kid Andersen. Excellent! 1928 has a definitive tango style rhythm and with it's rich melody and Portnov's beautiful harmonica work, complimented by Andrews' violin styling makes for another solid entry. Wrapping the release with a Bo Diddley beat on Till The Early Morning, Portnov creates a cool, train like tone and Andersen's shimmery guitar work, and bouncy piano contributions by Burns and drumming by  Core and percussion my Vye make this a solid closer. I really like this release, not only for it's musicianship and execution but for it's unique melodic beauty. Very nice job. 

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