By Mark Augustine
Blind Pig Records
Various Artists – Remembering Little Walter
In February, Legends hosted a fundraising event for the Little Walter Foundation that promised to feature much of the man’s music. I was working at the front desk one evening when a musician who plays regularly at the club walked in and read the flyer on the door promoting the event. “Little Walter Night at Legends?” he said. “Man’s been dead over thirty years and he still books more gigs than me.”
While the musician’s words were meant (mostly) in jest, the sentiment resonates with a great amount of truth. So great is Walter’s influence and legacy, it is fundamentally inescapable. Even without Walters physically present to play his music anymore, incredibly talented musicians often feel compelled to assemble and play it for him. Remembering Little Walter is a very successful attempt at doing just that.
Remembering Little Walter captures the evening of December 5th, 2012, when five of the world’s greatest blues harmonica players – Charlie Musselwhite, Billy Boy Arnold, Mark Hummel, Sugar Ray Norcia, and James Harman – came together to take turns belting out Little Walter classics. Walter’s music is given the proper treatment in the hands of these masters, while inspiring some true moments of genius, such as Hummel’s mournful, bellowing rendition of Blue Light.
The album culminates when everyone takes the stage together to trade licks on My Babe. These sorts of jams frequently instigate the sort of my-guy-plays-better-than-your-guy arguments that often occur shortly before Last Call. Luckily, it’s evident that the guys on this album are playing for each other, not for barroom validation.