Carlos del Junco and the Blues Mongrels

Mongrel Mash

by David Maine

29 August 2011

 

Harmonica wizard casts a spell

cover art

Carlos del Junco & the Blues Mongrels

Mongrel Mash

(Big Reed)
US: 11 May 2011
UK: 11 May 2011

How insane do you like your harmonica? Just a little bit nuts? Moderately disturbed? Or flat-out over-the-top? Well, if you fall into that third category, this might be the record for you. Carlos del Junco, considered by some as the greatest harmonica player in the world, has assembled a record uniquely suited to showing off his impressive chops. Far from being a straightforward blues album, del Junco’s band brings a jittery, jazzy, time-signature-shredding, world-music-evoking sensibility to the set. In other words, if you’re looking for something low-impact and tame, this probably isn’t the album to reach for.

One the other hand, if you’re in the mood for a little sonic variety—okay, whole wagonloads of sonic variety—this will do nicely. From the stop-and-start rhythms of instrumental opener “The Crazy Bastard” to the high-octane “Mojo” (a reworking of “I Got My Mojo Working”), from the mournful opening wails of “Heddon Tadpolly Spook”—don’t ask—to the closing bars of the Latin-jazz-inflected “Mariachi”, del Junco and his band appear allergic to doing anything twice. For listeners whose idea of harmonica remains rooted in 12-bar blues, this record will be a revelation—what Bela Fleck has done for banjo, Carlos del Junco is doing for harmonica.

Mongrel Mash

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