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Rocket Number 9

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Album Review

With his pink hair, sullen, expressionless face, and black clothes, harp blower Jason Ricci looks more art damaged emo kid than bluesman, but looks can be deceiving. Ricci tours relentlessly and has brought plenty of new fans to the genre with an approach that combines spacy, jam band meandering, the almost metallic guitar attack of Shawn Starski, and wide open arrangements that touch on jazz, rock, funk, Arab, punk, and, of course, blues. The album combines heavy, bluesy tunes and unexpectedly mellow soul outings. The title track, a Sun Ra tune, shows off the resourcefulness of Ricci and his bandmates — Starski on guitar, Todd Edmunds on acoustic and electric bass, keys, and percussion, and Ron Sutton on drums. The arrangement opens with a sinister harp interlude, and switches throughout from a straightforward blues-rock vamp to brief solo breaks featuring quiet, jazzy guitar breaks full of swinging comped chords, measured single-note runs and odd effects, hushed bass ruminations, nose flute work from Ricci in the style of Rahsaan Roland Kirk, and harp that often sounds as much like a horn section as a harmonica. Guest Michael Peloquin brings a bit of sax in to add an extra flavor. It clocks in at over ten minutes but never loses focus. "The Blow Zone Layer" is a Chicago style jumper with distorted harp and an aerobic rhythm track. Sutton rushes the beat to keep the energy high. "The Rocker" is metal-blues with plenty of meat on the bone, but Ricci's vocal is over the top and somewhat embarrassing. His harp, however, and Sutton's shredding guitar work, full of humorously tossed off arena rock clichés, is impressive. "Loving Eyes" has a vaguely Eastern sound — Ricci calls it his Junior Kimbrough-meets-Byrds piece — while Sutton's guitar chimes and shimmers with long sustained notes that match Ricci's restrained blowing. "Sonja," written by Starski and Ricci, is melodic and meditative, with a Beatlesque melody, some hushed non-blues, almost country, harp, and delicate chiming guitar work. Sutton's trap drum is almost invisible, adding just the suggestion of a beat. "Deliver Us" is a funky, gospel tinged tune, with a more subdued vocal from Ricci and some uncredited churchy organ, and brief emotion drenched solos from Ricci and Starski. Vocally there are times that Ricci tries too hard to sound black, or like a young Mick Jagger, which can be embarrassing, but there's no denying his versatility on the harmonica, or Starski's guitar prowess. ~ j. poet, Rovi


Genre: Rock

Years Active: '00s

Harmonica player, bandleader, and singer/songwriter Jason Ricci is one of a handful of new young lions on the blues scene who are helping to expand the parameters of the idiom. Ricci steers clear of traditional blues themes in his songwriting, yet his playing shows a tremendous amount of knowledge and respect for the masters of the instrument, people like Little Walter Jacobs, Sonny Boy Williamson, and George "Harmonica" Smith. Ricci's harmonica skills really took off after he moved to Memphis...
Full bio
Rocket Number 9, Jason Ricci
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  • 9,99 €
  • Genres: Rock, Music, Blues
  • Released: 23 October 2007

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