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September 2000

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Buy the Paul Oscher & Steve Guyger CD today


Paul Oscher & Steve Guyger
Legends: Deep In The Blues
Blues Leaf

Paul Oscher / Steve GuygerWhat do you get when you cross a red hot harp player from Brooklyn with an equally smoking harp player from Philadelphia? The result is Legends: Deep In The Blues (Blues Leaf), one hell of an intense album that is burning with pure blues from two of the finest harp players alive today, Paul Oscher and Steve Guyger. 

These two fellas learned their craft at the knee of a couple of the industry’s absolute masters. Paul Oscher joined Muddy Waters’ band in 1967 as the first white harmonica player in Muddy's band when he was 18 years old, and learned, firsthand, piano from Otis Spann and guitar from Waters. Steve Guyger spent 14 years on the road as a member of The Jimmy Rogers Band. 

Both gentleman are at their musical optimum for these sessions, which were done with no overdubs and no second takes. Oscher more than adequately contributes all guitar and piano lines as well as harp and vocals. Bassist Mike Lampe is the only other musician on this recording, as there is not one note of percussion audible on the entire project. The word “Deep” in the title is the understatement of the year to say the least. “Completely Submerged” is the more appropriate phrase in the case of this remarkable recording that is steeped in the style of 50’s Chicago, with the same type of musical back-alley rawness attributed to that era. Some classic tunes, such as Robert Lockwood's "Take A Little Walk With Me," John Williamson's "Sugar Mama," and J.B. Lenoir's "What Have I Done" are presented with such a passion and fervor that leave all other versions of these often covered pieces dull by comparison. 

The instrumental "Hideaway" showcases Oscher’s talent on slide guitar, and "The Things I Used To Do" shines a huge spotlight on his craftsmanship of the bass harp. Guyger’s chromatic prescriptions on "Ode To Billy Joe" (yes, the Bobbi Gentry hit from the 60’s) and the aforementioned "What Have I Done" would read like a page out of the "How To Play Classic Chromatic Harp" manual if such a thing existed. Guyger lets it all hang loose on these two pieces, in addition to the three originals he contributed to this majestic album. 

Two numbers in particular stand out above all others here because of their sheer simplicity, the co-written instrumental "Thunder" and the gospel- soaked rendition of "Have Mercy."

Deep In The Blues is a classic example of old-style blues expertly handled by two men who probably know more about the subject than most of today’s newer players ever will if they live to be 100. This collaboration between two old friends, with much in common, is as musically real and honestly presented as it possibly could ever be in a studio environment. The mutual respect these two players have for one another is evident throughout the 14 selections contained on this highly worthwhile CD. 

History will be very kind to this release even if the record buying public is not. This one is a classic.

--- Steve Hinrichsen

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