[29 March 2011]
James Cotton, the Grammy-winning blues harmonica player who was once a member of Muddy Waters’s band, really needs no introduction. Most blues fans would pay big money to hear Cotton blow into a tin can. So it’s quite an event when Cotton, now 75 years old, records new music, especially when the release itself, Giant, is so enjoyable. Backed by a stellar group of blues veterans—Slam Allen and Tom Holland on guitar and vocals, Noel Neal on bass and Kenny Neal, Jr. on drums—Cotton tears through a set of twelve tunes dedicated to the memory of Koko Taylor. Comprised mostly of classic blues covers, Giant is capped off by Cotton’s original composition, “Blues for Koko”, a slow-burning blues waltz instrumental that features Cotton bending, coaxing and charming notes in glorious fashion from his Seydel harmonica.