The Grammy Award-winning harmonica virtuoso was born James Whiting in Harlem, New York. Influenced by artists as diverse as Lester Young and Bob Dylan, Blue began his career playing on the streets, and later recorded with Brownie McGhee, Roosevelt Sykes and Victoria Spivey. He relocated to France on the advice of expatriate Memphis Slim, and while there hooked up with the Rolling Stones, who invited him to play on their Some Girls, Emotional Rescue and Tattoo You albums. Offered an indefinite session spot with the band, he turned down the offer in favor of returning to the U.S. Before leaving Europe, he recorded two albums, Crossroads and From Paris to Chicago.
In Chicago, Blue worked with and learned from harmonica legends Big Walter Horton, Carey Bell, James Cotton and Junior Wells. He played in the Chicago Blues All-Stars with friend and mentor Willie Dixon and contributed to Dixon’s Grammy-winning 1988 album Hidden Charms. He sat in with Fats Domino, Ray Charles and Jerry Lee Lewis for the Cinemax special Fats Domino and Friends. And he appeared onscreen and in the musical score of Alan Parker’s acclaimed 1987 thriller Angel Heart, starring Robert De Niro. Best known for his signature riff on the Rolling Stones’ “Miss You,” Blue performed his own version of the song on his 1993 Alligator Records album Blue Blazes, followed up with In Your Eyes.
As to how the name Sugar Blue came to be, “I needed a nickname and all the good ones were taken — Muddy Waters, Blind Lemon, Sonny Boy,” Blue explains. “One night a friend and I were leaving a Doc Watson concert when somebody threw out of the window a box full of old 78s. I picked one up and it said ‘Sugar Blues’ by Sidney Bechet. That’s it! I thought it was perfect. So here I am.”
Sugar Blue incorporates what he has learned into his visionary and singular style, technically dazzling yet wholly soulful. He bends, shakes and spills flurries of notes with simultaneous precision and abandon. And he zings too. His distinctive throat tends to be overlooked — a rich voice with a whisper of huskiness.
Of the Threshold album, Blue says, “I believe that the greatest threshold of all is love because it is the fount from which all human life springs. Life echoes the sounds of our interactions: joy, sadness, heartache, passion, loneliness, intimacy, celebration or solemn occasion. We have tried to give voice to these feelings in this musical offering.”
|POSTED BY: momof5pacs||POSTED ON: 12 Jan 2010 07:49 PM|
"Threshold" is the latest record from the highly acclaimed recording artist Sugar Blue. It is a record comprised of songs that fuse Rock, Funk, Jazz, and Blues all around Sugar's Grammy-winning harmonica playing and features a cast of highly professional musicians. The track, "Messin’ with the kid," is a classic Blues tune with a little bit of exhilaration thrown in and features some gritty and soulful harmonica playing from Sugar. "Noel news" is a funky piece, played with a little bit of Creole influence, that celebrates what Christmas is like down in the crescent city of New Orleans. "Don't call me" is more of a tranquil jazz song in which Sugar lets his harmonica playing be a soulful backup to his vocals as he emotionally croons to the one he loves. This album is one that celebrates and mixes the roots of music that has helped shape the culture in America. Whether you want to dance or be musically inspired, this album will do it for you. And if you love Funky or Bluesy harmonica playing, well then "Threshold" might just be a must for your album collection.
-Sean B. and the RadioIndy.com Reviewer Team
|POSTED BY: radioindy||POSTED ON: 26 Dec 2009 05:43 PM|
Sugar Blue: Threshold