One of the most distinctive and adventurous virtuosos on the harmonica, Carlos del Junco has forged a vast array of styles, including blues, jazz, country, rock and gospel, into one seamless whole. His mastery of an incredibly difficult blowing technique has yielded a magnificently expressive tone, and afforded him the capacity of exploring a broad range of ideas. As with his other critically acclaimed releases, the mainly instrumental Steady Movin’ defies categorization, but its eclecticism and diversity set it apart from the pack. Carlos’ muse is in full flight and the ebb-and-flow dynamics are thrilling, making this CD one absorbing listening experience.
Guitar savant extraordinaire Kevin Breit, Norah Jones’ guitarist, is the perfect sideman/collaborator and his presence is crucial to the CD’s overall flow. With their free-wheeling imaginations in flight, both Carlos and Kevin seem like twins sailing on similar musical seas. They sure push those boundaries in ways that will tickle your fancy. "Dull Blade," composed by Breit, is rather evocative of Blade Runner with its futurist, quirky vibes that swirl about like a neon rainbow. Both gents can swing with ease, as is royally apparent on Tiny Bradshaw’s "Jersey Bounce."
Carlos provides a deeply moving reading of "The Simple Life," elegantly capturing the myriad harmonic and melodic riches of this jazz standard. It’s as haunting as anything I’ve heard in years. On "Mashed Potatoes Canada," the late great James Brown gets feted with guest blues shouter John Dickie and laying down some lowdown and funky vocals. It’s an adaptation of Soul Brother Number One’s "Night Train," except Canadian cities are called out instead of American ones. Funky and fascinating!
Mention must be made of Carlos’ discipline, breath control, and intense concentration, which allow for an easygoing assimilation of all the inflections, shades, and tones inherent in Sonny Boy Williamson’s "Movin’ Down The River Rhine". Carlos carries it all off brilliantly (Sonny Boy 2 must be smiling from above). Then there’s "Amazing Grace" and it’s another stunning tour-de-force (certain passages sound exactly like bagpipes). Carlos deconstructs this sacred chestnut in ways that are glorious to behold. Few harmonica players have the chops to even contemplate pulling this one off. He goes solo on "Bailey’s Bounce" (inspired by early blues harmonica great and country music legend Deford Bailey) and it chugs along smartly, just like a freight train in full throttle.
The band members deserve full accolades, and beside Breit, include Marc Rogers (basses), Denis Keldie (keyboards), Matt Brubeck (cello), and Jorn Juul Andersen (drums). There are such plentiful rewarding riches throughout the entirety of Steady Movin that even the most finicky audiophile couldn’t ask fro more. Carlos del Junco’s place alongside such greats as Toots Thiellmans,, Paul Butterfield and Howard Levy is beyond doubt. Steady Movin simply belongs at the very top of your "must-buy" list this year.