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Down In the Mood Room

Jerry Portnoy

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Album Review

Harp master Jerry Portnoy give his blues a vintage swing on Down in the Mood Room, transporting listeners to the smoky jazz joints of a bygone era. This concept album is rewarding from start to finish, if you appreciate sultry jazz and blues played on the harp. Its classy retro tones will be a welcome change of pace for blues harp enthusiasts who like to mellow down easy. Producer Duke Robillard gives the album a wonderful vintage sound. Portnoy also proves he's no jazz slouch. On standards like "Lullaby of Birdland," "Canadian Sunset," "Sentimental Journey," and "Stormy Weather," his clarity of tone and sense of melody are remarkable, rivaling the original jazz harp impresario, Toots Thielemans. He doesn't just honk, he truly sings on this record. His harmonic and tonal gymnastics will amaze as well, as he jumps from a whisper to a wail in a single breath. The record's material is refreshingly diverse, while still common in theme. Beyond nostalgic ballads and blues, Portnoy cuts it up on a swinging rendition of Horace Silver's "Doodlin'" and several raucous originals. Highlights include his "Mood Room Boogie" and "Once Too Often." His noir-ish "Endless Road" is also a bona fide classic. Another nice surprise: Portnoy and Robillard's campy yet cool vocals, reminiscent of Cab Calloway. Robillard's reading of "You Rascal You" is priceless. This is jazz and blues in their pure form from two greats.


Born: November 25, 1943 in Evanston, IL

Genre: Blues

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

Another ex-Muddy Waters employee, Jerry Portnoy's biting, flailing harmonica style rivals any within contemporary blues circles for fluency, range, or emotional range. His vocals are effective enough,...
Full Bio
Down In the Mood Room, Jerry Portnoy
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  • $9.99
  • Genres: Blues, Music, Jazz
  • Released: Jan 01, 2002

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